> Chemical Societies Report
The Workshop of US and African Chemical Societies was organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in order to develop tangible ways for the societies to work together to their mutual advantage, i.e., to strengthen African chemical societies while also providing benefits to US chemists, such as expanded research opportunities in challenging and important fields. The workshop, held April 8-10, 1999, at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, brought together representatives of five of the most active African chemical societies (Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania), plus the American Chemical Society (ACS), the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), and the African Association of Pure and Applied Chemistry (AAPAC). The industrial perspective was also represented at the workshop through the participation of the Chemical and Allied Industries Association of South Africa. A complete participant list is attached as Appendix A. Although some of the individual participants had met previously (notably at a July 1997 IUPAC-AAPAC meeting in Durban), this event marked the first time they had convened formally as representatives of their respective chemical societies.
Rather than serving as a forum for the reiteration of the various challenges facing African science, the workshop focused on formulating specific action plans for useful collaborative activities and on forging long-term institutional relationships. Four primary objectives guided the workshop agenda: To identify and prioritize examples of significant research areas where there is a particular and mutual need for international collaboration; to improve the technical, financial, and managerial capacity of African chemical societies; to explore ways the societies can collaborate and pool resources on important value-added initiatives; and to ensure continued regular communication among the societies represented at the workshop as well as others that were not able to attend. See Appendix B for the detailed workshop agenda.
The workshop featured brief presentations from the institutions represented, highlighting activities, goals, and most pressing needs of each (thumbnail sketches of the participating chemical societies can be found in Appendix C). Discussion sessions focused on synthesizing common themes, identifying targets for cooperative activities, setting priorities among the proposed activities, determining appropriate and feasible roles for the participating institutions, and ultimately producing a specific action plan. It is noteworthy also that the Baldwin Ngubane, the South African Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, honored us with a visit during the workshop, during which he noted the importance of chemistry and the chemical societies in contributing to a vital economy.
This rest of this report will summarize the discussions that took place and present the resolutions for followup action that emerged by consensus.