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Web Date: January 20, 2011

African Chemists Meet In Johannesburg

International: Conference draws 500 people with themes of chemistry and Africa's future, sustainability
Department: ACS News | Collection: IYC 2011
Keywords: SACI/FACS conference
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Jackson (center) with Patricia W. Gitari (left), a chemistry lecturer at the University of Nairobi, and Olayinka A. Oyetunji, a chemistry professor at the University of Botswana. Jackson used funds from her ACS presidential budget to support Gitari's and Oyetunji's attendance at the SACI/FASC meeting.
Credit: Rudy Baum/C&EN
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Jackson (center) with Patricia W. Gitari (left), a chemistry lecturer at the University of Nairobi, and Olayinka A. Oyetunji, a chemistry professor at the University of Botswana. Jackson used funds from her ACS presidential budget to support Gitari's and Oyetunji's attendance at the SACI/FASC meeting.
Credit: Rudy Baum/C&EN
Jackson (right) with International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry President Nicole J. Moreau.
Credit: Rudy Baum/C&EN
IMG_0328
 
Jackson (right) with International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry President Nicole J. Moreau.
Credit: Rudy Baum/C&EN

Chemists from throughout Africa and the world are meeting in Johannesburg this week for a conference with the theme "Chemistry: The Key to Africa's Future." The joint meeting of the South African Chemical Institute (SACI)—the oldest and largest chemical society in Africa—and the Federation of African Societies of Chemistry (FASC) is the first in a series of events celebrating the International Year of Chemistry (IYC).

The joint conference marks both the 40th meeting of SACI and the third meeting of FASC, which was founded in 2006. The conference began on Jan. 16 and runs through Jan. 21.

At the opening ceremonies, Temechegn Engida, president of FASC and one of the originators of the idea to celebrate IYC, said that "2011 represents a new spirit of chemistry in Africa, celebrated not through holidays but through hard work in applying chemistry to sustainable development in Africa." Engida also used the occasion to announce that a number of individuals, including American Chemical Society President Nancy B. Jackson, had been made honorary members of FASC.

Jackson spoke during the opening ceremonies and presented a keynote lecture in the green chemistry track of the conference on "Solar Recycling of CO2 into Hydrocarbon Fuels: Sunshine to Petrol." She described an approach developed at Sandia National Laboratories for using concentrated solar energy to reduce CO2 to CO as the first step toward producing hydrocarbon fuels. The take-home message of her talk, Jackson said, was that "solar fuels encompass more than just biology."

Also at the opening ceremonies, Ivan R. Green, president of SACI, said: "We are proud to initiate IYC from the South African side of the African continent. The SACI/FASC conference has something for everyone." Green urged young chemists from Africa attending the conference to network with the many speakers from Western countries.

Another major theme of the SACI/FASC meeting was sustainability, including approaches to mitigate the effects of climate change. The first plenary lecture at the conference was presented by Sir David King, who holds positions at both the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. The successes of science and technology in improving human existence and extending human life spans in the 20th century have spawned many of the challenges, including climate change, facing us in the early decades of the 21st century, King said. The lecturer said he is optimistic that chemistry can provide solutions to many of those challenges.

 
Chemical & Engineering News
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