Future Earth Africa Hub Nodes Launched

Future Earth Africa Hub Nodes Launched

The Future Earth Africa Hub Nodes, hosted by the National Research Foundation (NRF) as the host of the Future Earth Global Secretariat Hub for Africa, were launched at the Sustainability Research and Innovation Congress Africa (SRI2024) Satellite Event.

Future Earth, a global network of scientists, researchers, and innovators who collaborate on research for a more sustainable planet, selected the NRF to host Future Earth Global Secretariat Hub for Africa in March 2022 after a bidding process. The Future Earth Africa Hub (Africa Hub), which the NRF launched at the Nelson Mandela University during the SRI2023, joined eight other global secretariat hubs, namely Canada, China, France, Japan, South Asia, Sweden, Taipei, and the United States.

The Africa Hub operates as a global initiative with a strong African presence and voice, and integrates Africa’s thriving and expanding sustainability science, policy, and funding communities into the global sustainability science arena. As with the eight other Hubs, the Africa Hub aims to contribute towards Future Earth’s mission of strengthening sustainability science capacities, connections and global contributions.

These nodes will collectively coordinate sustainability research endeavours within their respective geographical regions, supported by academic partner institutions and/or funders, e.g. science granting councils.

The launch of the Future Earth Africa Hub Nodes on 22 May 2024, marked an important step towards the operationalisation of the Africa Hub. The launch saw the announcement of nodes in three regions, namely West Africa, North Africa and East Africa. The host institutions are Helwan University in Egypt; Maseno University in Kenya; and the West Africa node co-hosted by Cape Coast University in Ghana and Togo’s University of Lome. They were selected from a group of 25 institutions that responded to the NRF’s call for applications to host the nodes. The Central and Southern Africa nodes will be announced later this year.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Thandi Mgwebi, Group Executive: Business Advancement at the NRF, said “The nodes are designed to make an impact in their regions, while also maintaining the utmost support from the central hub. Last year, when I was at Nelson Mandela University, we hosted this satellite event and we announced the hub. We made a promise that it would integrate the hub and spoke model, with the different spokes in the different regions. This is where we are now.”

“I would like to commend the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) for its leadership and in making sure that we stand for the continent of Africa. We developed these concepts jointly, but at the policy level this would not have been possible without the DSI’s direction. We’re very grateful as South Africa in terms of the leadership of the department in making sure that there are sustainable projects,” added Dr Mgwebi.

Dr Gilbert Siko, Director of Marine and Polar Science at the DSI, said “The nodes are intended to ensure that the Africa Hub reaches scientists across all parts of Africa. When the hub came to South Africa, the country wanted to make sure that it was truly African, that it does not just reside in South Africa but that it also spreads throughout Africa. This is the beginning. We have to start working. Next time we will look at what these nodes have achieved. When the nodes achieve, it means the Africa Hub achieves.”

Dr Makyba Charles-Ayinde, US Global Hub Director, said, “I am thrilled about the opportunities that I see for collaborative research between all nine of the Future Earth Hubs. Finally, we have Africa with a seat at the table. I’m excited about the knowledge exchange. We have to learn from you and you also have to learn from us. I’m excited about the numerous joint initiatives that I see in our future, prioritising things that are important to all regions.”

Dr Daniel Nyanganyura, Director of the Future Earth African Hub Leadership Centre, urged academics to support the nodes in their regions. “I had the privilege of working with the people who looked at all the proposals that were submitted. They were all very good, but we need to have someone who will lead us in a particular region. That is why we chose only just a few institutions to lead us. However, they cannot do this alone. They need support. As the Future Earth African Hub Leadership Centre, we will support you. We will visit you, we will find ways of looking into where the gaps are and try to fill them where we can.”

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