The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), in its capacity as the Regional Coordination Unit of the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF), the flagship program from the Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET), held a Pan-African Hybrid RSIF-UM6P conference that saw several experts, ministers, and scholars, researchers, policy-makers and the media gather for two days in Ben Guerir’s Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), Morocco from June 28 to 29 to discuss the fund’s role in African development and collaboration. The 2022 conference builds up on the RSIF 2021 virtual Pre-Conference that was held virtually from 15-17 November 2021. A total of 102 participants attended in person and 1,082 virtually. A summary of the conference outcomes are available in this communique
Guided by the Conference theme “African-led science, technology and innovation for contributing to the SDGs and global development”, the meeting focused on how to actualise the African countries agenda to train doctoral students in high quality PhD programmes in applied sciences, engineering and Technology (ASET) in the key thematic areas of PASET. Watch highlights of the meeting here
RSIF alumnus Dr. Noel Gahamanyi who is currently a Lecturer of Microbiology at University of Rwanda, presented on Zoonoses and antimicrobial resistance (MR) during the conference. He also made a poster presentation alongside other RSIF scholars and alumni during proceedings. Dr Gahamanyi was one of the 15 scholars in the first Cohort that commenced their studies in 2018. In 2021, he obtained his PhD in Molecular Epidemiology of Campylobacter from Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania. He shared with us his thoughts about the conference in this question-and-answer session.
Q: To start with a big-picture overview of the Conference, could you tell us how the overall experience was like, after two days full of presentations on the value of partnerships and the role of scientific research in Africa?
A. The conference was well organized as it was in a hybrid mode. It meant that even those who could not travel to Morocco managed to benefit a lot from the presentations. I was impressed by the dedication of PASET partners in upgrading the PASET program by linking academia and industry to have an impact on the society. I also liked the presentations highlighting the sandwich program model because it empowers scholars with valuable research insights and skills. Lastly, I was touched by the congratulatory messages to icipe management for the achievements in managing the PASET program since 2018.
Q: You attended the conference as an alumnus of PASET-RSIF and made a poster presentation about your research work. Share with us what the presentation focus was, and the highlight of your poster presentation.
A. The title of my poster was: ‘‘Molecular epidemiology and antimicrobial susceptibility profiles of thermophilic Campylobacter species from humans and animal feces in South Korea and Tanzania’’. I highlighted that chicken and cattle are the major reservoirs of Campylobacter strains that are resistant to commonly used antibiotics like ciprofloxacin and tetracycline. These strains can lead to severe infections in humans. I also showed that natural products like essential oils and their pure compounds were effective against even antibiotic-resistant strains. Lastly, I mentioned that molecular techniques are important pillars in diagnosis and surveillance of infectious diseases including campylobacteriosis.
Q: The Minister of Education of the Republic of Rwanda, Dr Uwamariya Valentine, who also serves as the Chair for PASET Governing Board attended the meeting, what is/was your message and request to her about RSIF and scientific research in Africa.
A. I had an opportunity to talk to her during the conference. In short, my message is to seek more funds that can support a large number of young Africans dreaming to pursue Ph.D. studies. I also requested her to advocate for early matching and start of the sandwich program for PASET-RSIF scholars as any delay can affect the completion of the program (four years).
Q: What was your biggest take home from the Pan-African Hybrid RSIF-UM6P Conference?
A: My take home message from the conference is to incorporate digital technologies into our professions towards achieving the sustainable development goals.