We Must Have a WW II Type Military Mobilization NOW to Combat Covid-19 in Africa

This report below by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, published July 19, should serve as a call to arms for immediate action to prevent the deaths of several hundred thousand Africans in the months ahead. Now is the time for action; not debate. Africa needs 3 billion doses of the vaccine, not the few hundred thousand doses that are being dribbled out by the Western countries. Africa’s 1.5 billion people must be vaccinated now-not in 2023. We African nations need to upgrade their weak healthcare system. Manufacturing and distributing centers for the vaccine must immediately be created along with necessary infrastructure, logistics, and training. Now is not the time to quibble about money. Human life is more precious than money. Don’t worry about lending money, give the money outright to prevent Africa from experiencing what India has suffered, and potentially far worse.

READ: Spotlight devastating human toll delta-Covid-variant-takes-hold-in-Africa

By the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, July 9, 2021

The surge in the Delta coronavirus variant in Africa is set to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths in the coming months absent a dramatic scaling up of preventative measures and COVID vaccine access.

While parts of the world have seemingly begun to turn the page on the pandemic, COVID’s third wave is the headline story across Africa. There has been a near tripling in the number of COVID cases and 30,000 fatalities on the continent since the end of April when the Delta variant emerged in Uganda.

Read my earliuer posts:

Vaccination and Healthcare for Africa NOW! Prevent Scourge of Covid-19 and Save Lives

Biden Must Lead All-Out Effort to Vaccinate Africa From COVID-19

Rising Covid19 Death Rate Threatens Africa. Vaccinations and Healthcare Must Be Provided

International Cooperation and Collaboration Needed to Save Lives in Africa From COVID-19

New Economic Order Required to Combat COVID-19 in Africa

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

“HARD INFRASTRUCTURE IS WHAT WE NEED TO GET OUT OF POVERTY.”

Watch the video interview below with Olawale A-Rasheed, CEO of Abuja, Nigeria-based African Railway Consulting Ltd, who provides an excellent discussion of Africa’s needs for massive railroad construction.

The Silent Revolution in African Rail

2 June 2021

In this new podcast of the Belt and Road Institute in Sweden (BRIX), host Hussein Askary discusses with our guest Olawale A-Rasheed, CEO of Abuja, Nigeria-based African Railway Consulting Ltd, the current situation and future plans for railway connectivity in the African continent. We try to answer the following questions: – What is the status of transport sector in Africa, West Africa, and Nigeria? – What projects are completed, under construction? Who is building them? – What are the plans to develop this sector? Trans-African High-speed rail? – What is the role of China and the BRI in this process, and what can the U.S. and Europe contribute to it? Why they should learn from China in focusing on building the hard infrastructure in Africa? – There are many initiatives proposed by the U.S., the UK, and the EU to “rival” the BRI and China in Africa. Are these realistic? Wouldn’t it be better if the West and China join hands with Africa to reach the development goals? Mr. Rasheed is also the Director of the African Rail Roundtable and editor of the specialized magazine Rail Business (http://railbus.com.ng/)

“The real friends of Africa now are those trying to bridge the infrastructure deficit…..China has done it. It has pumped billions of dollars into the Belt and Road Initiative. Now, whatever critisism they have on that initiative, it has helped Africa. It has opened up Africa and it has challenged the world, that to be a friend of Africa, come and help us to build roads, bridges, have vision, high cities, power, and all those. So it is a clarion call to all friends of Africa in the West, East, Asia that HARD INFRASTRUCTURE IS WHAT WE NEED TO GET OUT OF POVERTY.”

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

Africa Needs A Nuclear Power Visionary Like President Kennedy

South Africa has the only nuclear power plant on the the African continent. There should be 1,000 more.

May 31, 2021

President  John F Kennedy was the last great U.S. President.  He had a vision for developing the U.S.  As a student of President Franklin Roosevelt, President Kennedy understood how to create a more prosperous economic future by using the most advanced form of energy; nuclear. (see below).  It is no coincident that the U.S. experienced its greatest technologically driven increase in productivity as a result of of his “Man on the Moon” space exploration initiative.  President Kennedy was also the last U.S. president who enthusiastically supported the development of Africa. His partnership with Ghanaian President, Kwame Nkrumah, to build the Volta Dam energy and industrial complex, stands out as the high point in U.S.-Africa relations.  It is the lack of a U.S. development perspective for Africa over the last six decades that has led to the failures of U.S. to respond to Africa’s vital needs for energy infrastructure.

Consider this optimistic outlook for the people living in Africa. To industrialize African nations, eliminate poverty and hunger, the continent needs a minimum of an additional 1,000 gigawatts of electricity.  Why not build. one thousand nuclear power plants, each generating 1,000 megawatts of electricity. 

President Kennedy: “All this means that we put science to work, science to work in improving our environment and making this country a better place in which to live. I want us to stay ahead. Do you know that in the next 10 years, I hope the people of the United States realize it – we double the need for electric power every 10 years? We need the equivalent of a new Grand Coulee Dam every 60 days. In the next 20 years we are going to have to put in the electric industry $125 billion of investment, and when we do that, this country will be richer, and our children will enjoy a higher standard of living.” (emphasis. added)

President Kennedy: Nuclear Power Visionary

Read my earlier post: Nuclearize Africa: It Is Necessary To End Poverty and Hunger

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

Rising Covid19 Death Rate Threatens Africa. Vaccinations and Healthcare Must Be Provided

Workers carry a coffin to the display area at the Kingsize Coffins manufacturing plant, amid a nationwide coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, in Benoni, South Africa on January 25, 2021.
Workers carry a coffin to the display area at the Kingsize Coffins manufacturing plant, amid a nationwide coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, in Benoni, South Africa on January 25, 2021. Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

January 29, 2021

In my interview with RT TV, I emphasized that it was deadly stupidity and immoral not to vaccinate ever African. WATCHAfrica must be vaccinated

The entire world is not safe until ALL people are vaccinated. In the Spring of 2020, when Africa had a lower rate of COVID19 infection compared to the rest of the world, I warned of an increase in the death rate in Africa due to woefully deficient healthcare. If we care about the human race, we need a “New Just Economic Order,” that values human life over debt and money. 

Ambassador John Campbell is his blog post  Covid-19-death-rate-rising-africa? discusses the increase in infection and mortality from Coivd19 on the African continent.

Read my earlier posts  below on COVID19 in Africa:

International Cooperation and Collaboration Needed to Save Lives in Africa From COVID-19

New Economic Order Required to Combat COVID-19 in Africa

 Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

 

The Africa Integrated High-Speed Rail Network is Feasible and Will Create A Prosperous Future for All African Nations

Please watch the 30 minute video below, which is a provocative interview with Roland Ataguba, Managing Director of Bethlehem Rail Infrastructure Limited. He discusses in detail the feasibility of An Integrated Railway  Network

Please watch the 8 minute video below on the The African Integrated High-Speed Railway Network (AIHSRN), “An Agenda 2063 Flagship Project” proposed by the African Union.

 

 

This article: http://africanagenda.net/african-new-paradigm/, by PD Lawton, creator of the website: AfricanAgenda.net, reviews major rail and related infrastructure projects that African nations are planning and presently constructing.

 Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

Africa Needs Nuclear Power to Propel Economic Development and Eliminate Poverty-Will Ghana Take the Lead?

Africa’s only nuclear powerplant in Koeberg South Africa. (Courtesy cbn.co.za)

December 18, 2020

Ghana has correctly focused on obtaining energy from nuclear power to realize their ambition of becoming an industrialized economy. It is worth remembering that under President Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana had, I believe, the first test nuclear reactor on the continent. Seventeen African nations are in various stages of planning for nuclear energy stations in their countries. The energy-flux density of nuclear power is superior to all other forms of energy, plus it is not dependent on wind, water, or sunlight. I encourage all African nations to move rapidly to harness the power of the Sun on earth through nuclear energy. The most complete means for African nations to break free from the legacy of colonialism, is to design nuclear powered manufacturing-industrialized economies; ending poverty and hunger.  

Nuclear Energy in Africa – Lessons from Ghana

The Republic of Ghana has a long and complicated history with nuclear energy dating back to the country’s immediate post-independence period. Despite being derailed at multiple points on a long, uneven journey, recent developments around Ghana’s nuclear plans provide hope and lessons for the rest of Africa.

Ghana has experienced recurring periods of unstable electricity supply in 1983, 1997-1998; 2003; 2006-2007 and again from 2011-2017. Domestic natural gas and oil reserves provide some relief, but projections indicate that these will dry up by 2045. The National Electrification Scheme (NES) aimed for universal electricity access by 2020; however this is more realistically attainable by 2022.

Access to electricity in Ghana is fairly widespread with the electricity access rate at 85% in 2019. However, problems with the country’s conventional sources of electricity signal that the time is right for Ghana to pursue its nuclear aspirations alongside other renewable energy generation options to achieve the twin goals of economic development and consistent electricity supply.

By 2057, Ghana hopes to have a highly industrialised economy. It has singled out nuclear power as a key vehicle of development. Ghana’s nuclear ambitions started with the establishment of the Kwabenya Nuclear Reactor Project in 1961. Derailed by consecutive military coups d’état, the project remains uncompleted. Commitment to the establishment of a functioning, effective nuclear power programme from government has also been inconsistent.

Yet recent developments provide hope. The return of nuclear energy to the country’s development agenda is accelerated by the need for a stable electricity supply. In 2015 the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to carry out a ‘Phase 1 Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review Mission (INIR)’ in the country.

INIR evaluations represent an important step in the establishment of a nuclear energy programme in any country and ensure that expert decisions guide these highly technical projects. INIR evaluations are based on the IAEA’s ‘Milestones in the Development of a National Infrastructure for Nuclear Power‘ document, which outlines three development phases of a nuclear power programme.

First phase reviews assess the readiness of a country to embark on the road to nuclear power and take place at the decision-making stage. Second phase reviews follow directly from the first and entail putting into place concrete actions after the decision to go nuclear has been taken. In the final phase, the nuclear power programme is implemented.

Not long after the GAEC initiated contact with the IAEA, the Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organisation (GNPPO), (https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/iaea-reviews-progress-of-ghanas-nuclear-infrastructure-development), which is responsible for overseeing the programme, provided a self-evaluation report. Acting on both the initial communication as well as the report submitted by the GNPPO, the IAEA sent an expert team to Ghana in January 2017 in order to carry out the INIR Mission.

The team determined that Ghana had sufficiently progressed in order to begin preparation for the second phase of the project and another Review Mission. Before progressing to this next phase; however, the evaluation team suggested prioritising further research and bolstering of Ghana’s legal framework.

Establishing a nuclear power project seems logical for a country that is no stranger to the peaceful application of nuclear technology. Ghana has successfully operated a 30kW nuclear research reactor for more than two decades. The Ghana Research Reactor-1 (GHARR-1) is one of 12 research reactors on the African continent and plays a vital role in the education and training of personnel to oversee its emerging nuclear energy programme. GHARR-1 is also relied on for research , particularly the treatment of nuclear waste and environmental safety, and irradiation projects. Ghana also relies on nuclear technology for administering radiotherapy and other nuclear medicine applications.

The energy supply situation in the rest of Africa is not very different. Power outages are regular occurrences in much of Africa and according to the IAEA, more than half of the population of sub-Saharan Africa remains disconnected from the grid. Nuclear power represents an alternative and reliable source of electricity.

Excluding South Africa, where nuclear power is already established, the IAEA notes that nearly one third of the countries that have approached it for assistance in establishing a nuclear power programme are African. Apart from Ghana, these include Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan. According to the IAEA, the nuclear option is also under consideration in Algeria and Tunisia as well as Uganda and Zambia.

If the road to nuclear energy in Ghana is anything to go by, it is a telling example to other African countries of the commitment necessary, as well as the importance of political stability and political will in implementing a project that holds vast potential for economic and human development.

This piece draws on research conducted by Hubert Foy and Isabel Bosman for an upcoming SAIIA Special Report on the peaceful use of nuclear energy in Ghana.

Read: Nuclear Energy in Africa-Lessons from Ghana 

 Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

World Food Program Awarded Nobel Peace Prize. WFP Dir, Beasley Responds With “Call to Action” to Stop Starvation

David Beasley, the head of the World Food Program, visiting Sanaa, Yemen, September 2018, where the world’s worst hunger crisis continues to unfold. (courtesy WFP/Marco Frattini, September 2018)

October 19, 2020

I whole heartedly congratulate the World Food Program (WFP) for receiving the 2020 Noble Peace Prize “for its efforts to combat hunger.” I also full support WFP Executive Director, David Beasley’s call for action to prevent starvation. Speaking in Niger on October 9, Beasley said: “Just in the last three years, the number of people on the brink of starvation had risen before COVID, from 80 million to 135 million. And now, with COVID, the number of people—and I’m not talking about people going to bed hungry—on the brink of starvation is now up to 270 million people…we are on the brink of disaster.” Earlier this year, Beasley reported that Beasley warned that from 150,000 to 300,000 people could die a day from starvation.

Fifteen African nations account for half of that 270 million. The WFP has identified the following nations as being in dire need of food: Burkina Faso (4.8); Cameroon (5.2); C.A.R. (3.1); D.R.C. (21.8); Ethiopia (18.0); Liberia (0.84); Mali (3.5); Mozambique (3.3); Niger (5.9); Nigeria (23.8); Sierra Leone (2.9); Somalia (6.3); South Sudan (10.2); Sudan (17.7); Zimbabwe (6.3); totaling 133.64 million people.

David Beasley alerted the world, that 7 million people have already died of hunger this year and that figure could increase by“3, 4, 5 times or more.” The WPF calculates that it needs $6.8 billion to prevent famine. With $1.6 billion received so far, $5 billion more is urgently needed. “The $5 billion that we’re talking about is additional money, because we feed 100 million people. It literally is—the starvation rate is spiraling because of COVID and economic deterioration,” he said. “And quite frankly, with the billionaires making hundreds of billions of dollars with COVID, we’re facing the worst humanitarian crises since World War II. They need to step up. We need an extra $5 billion to save millions of lives around the world….This is a call to action. With all the wealth in the world today, no one should be dying from hunger, not a single person.”

Referring to the most severe cases, the Beasley warned: “There are literally about a dozen or two dozen places around the world that, if we don’t get the support that they need, three things are going to happen. One, you are going to have famine, I mean, literally of biblical proportions. Number two, you’re going to have destabilization. And, number three, you’re going to have mass migration. And we can solve all that. We have a cure against starvation, and it is called food.” (all emphasis added)

South African activist, Phillip Tsokolibane has called for a “military mobilization” to provide logistics to stop the spread of hunger in Africa. He said last week from South Africa:

“While various charitable and other organizations have sounded alarm bells and have appealed for money, the issue we face, if we want to save lives, is securing massive amounts of food, as soon as possible, to hungry and starving people. Given the state of infrastructure on the continent and the fact that much of this starvation is occurring in isolated, rural areas, the distribution that must take place is well beyond the means of individual governments and those of relief agencies.

“I believe we must mobilize the logistical capacities of the world’s most capable military forces and design a strategy to bring food supplies from such food-producing nations as the United States and Canada, and bring them directly to those who need them. Let allies and adversaries alike, join forces, in this greatest of all humanitarian efforts.”

Emergency Action Required

  1. We must urgently deliver food to starving people. One single human being dying from starvation is intolerable. Every creative soul that perishes is a loss to the human race.
  2. Nations producing food surpluses must allocate food shipments to feed starving people in Africa.
  3. Logistics for delivery will have to done in a military fashion or directly by qualified military personnel supported by governments.
  4. Roads, railways, and bridges constructed for emergency food delivery can serve as an initial platform for expansion to a higher plateau of infrastructure required for economic growth
  5. Debts must be suspended to enable nations to direct money away from onerous payments of debt service to growing and distributing food.
  6. A new financial architecture-a New Bretton Woods must be established with a facility to issue credit to finance critical categories of infrastructure necessary for economic growth and food production.

Read my earlier posts:

COVID-19 Tragedy Compels Revamping Globalization and Food Production 

Famine in Africa: More Than Humanitarian Aid Required

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in the economic development policy of Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

South African Pres. Ramaphosa Calls For End to Poverty and a New Global Deal

UN General Assembly celebrating 75th anniversary virtually - YouTube

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa in his address to the United Nations calls for the necessity to end poverty in Africa and the need to establish a New Global Deal that provides affordable credit. I fully support these goals. I have advocated for the creation of a New Bretton Woods for decades. Without a new international financial architecture that provides long-term low-interest credit to developing nations for infrastructure, African nations will not be able to fulfill their ambition to end poverty.

Address by President of the Republic of South Africa and African Union Chair, President Cyril Ramaphosa at the 75th United Nations General Assembly Debate, September 22, 2020

Excerpts below:

“When the Secretary-General António Guterres delivered the 18th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in July 2020, he called on the nations of the world to forge a New Social Contract and a New Global Deal.

“He said we must create equal opportunities for all, that we must advance a more inclusive and balanced multilateral trading system, that debt architecture must be reformed, and that there should be greater access to affordable credit for developing countries…

“As the African Union we are encouraged by the collaboration of the G20, the IMF, the World Bank and the UN towards finding solutions to debt sustainability in developing countries.

“It is a call we as South Africa wholly endorse.

“This pandemic has highlighted the urgency with which we must strive to meet all the Sustainable Development Goals, but more importantly Goal 1 – to end poverty in all its forms everywhere.

“For until we eradicate global poverty, we will always fall short of realizing the vision of the founders of the United Nations…

“Together, we must raise our level of ambition to ensure that every man, every woman and every child has an equal chance at a better future.

“It is a future free of hunger, disease, insecurity and war.” (emphassis added)

Read full speech: South Africa Pres Ramaphosa Address to the UN

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in the economic development policy of Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

New Infrastructure Vital for South Africa to Combat COVID-19 and Save Lives!

South Africa Says Lenders Commit $21 Billion to Building Projects

Banks, development finance institutions and multilateral organizations have committed 340 billion rand ($21 billion) to infrastructure projects in South Africa that could create 290,000 jobs, the government said.

The projects range from water supply to housing, energy, agriculture and roads. They were named in a July 24 government gazette, paving the way for the beginning of private investment in a 2.3 trillion rand program over the next decade.

Infrastructure investment has been identified by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa as a key plank in his bid to revive a stagnant economy that’s been further damaged by the coronavirus pandemic. While the state has traditionally funded most infrastructure in South Africa, surging debt has seen the government turn to private capital.

The projects need sovereign guarantees and an increase in debt limits, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, the head of infrastructure investment in the presidency, said at a press conference today.

For more on the initial announcement, click here

Still, the commitments are a step forward in attracting investment into the country, which faces infrastructure deficits ranging from piped water to housing and power plants.

Of the 276 projects being considered by Ramokgopa’s department, the initial list totaled 50 with an additional 12 “special projects.” The projects are “shovel ready,” he said, with work likely to begin within three months.

“We will come with the next wave of projects,” he said. “The state needs to reciprocate by providing those guarantees.”

Private funding

Some of the projects, such as the next stage of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, are already in process. Ramokgopa was not clear on whether the total investment amount included previously announced expenditure.

“What we need are projects that are financed independently by private investors who then earn a return through operating the projects,” said Theobald. “Those are genuinely fiscal neutral and growth positive.”

Ramokgopa did say one project to build 45,000 housing units was completely privately funded.

The commitments are as follows:

  • Transport: 47 billion rand, creating 50,000 jobs
  • Water and sanitation: 106 billion rand, creating 25,000 jobs
  • Housing: 138 billion rand, creating 190,000 jobs
  • Agriculture: 7 billion rand and 4,000 jobs
  • Digital: 4 billion rand and 700 jobs
  • Energy: 58 billion rand, creating 6,000 jobs

Reported by EIRNS, researchers at South Africa’s National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) group released a Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (CRAM) on Wednesday, July 15, which provided a bleak picture of the reality currently facing that nation under lock down, conditions which are representative of much of Africa and the Global South.

Conducted over a two-month period during May and June, the extensive (20-minute) survey was conducted by phone this year, with 30 researchers contacting over 7,000 people/homes. Of the hundreds of questions asked — with conversations getting personal to the point of provoking tears — the final report breaks the responses into three categories: Employment, Hunger, and Health.

  • On employment: 30% of income earners who had a job in February did not earn an income in April 2020 (the month South Africa’s hard lock down started and before relief efforts kicked in). As could be expected, job losses were highest in already-disadvantaged areas which could least afford it.
  • On hunger: 47% of respondents reported that their household ran out of money to buy food in April 2020. 1 in 5 respondents told researchers that someone in their household had gone hungry in the last seven days, and 1 in 7 respondents reported that a child had gone hungry in the last seven days. In households with children, 8% reported “frequent” child hunger (3 or more days in the last 7 days) in their household, and 1 in 25 (4%) reported “perpetual” hunger (almost every day or every day), with cases of “food shielding” (adults not eating so their children could survive), evidenced by “adult” hunger surpassing child hunger by almost 8%.
  • On health: 78% couldn’t (or wouldn’t, whether out of fear or poverty) see a doctor at least once during May or June, while 23% reported they were unable to access needed medications. The situation in South Africa is compounded by the unaddressed crisis of AIDS, with victims being unable to access critical care because of COVID-19 overload, a condition which could only be worse if the patient were pregnant.

While the authors do not note it, the survey is the first known to bring together these three aspects of the crisis, providing an accurate physical-economic picture of this harsh reality.

Science and Space Exploration Essential For Africa’s Economic Growth

I present below a new paper by the China Africa Research Institute (CARI) and remarks by Marie Korsaga, an astrophysicist from Burkina Faso. The common theme binding these two presentations is the importance of space technology and science education for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Not discussed by the two authors is the essential understanding that scientific discovery is the true source of economic wealth, contrary to the foolish views that Africa’s wealth is measured by the quantities of mineral resources found underground. The mind with its innate ability to hypothesize, to discover new physical principles, if imperfectly, is the underlying wellspring of progress for humankind. African nations expanding their involvement in space exploration are making an invaluable contribution to their future. Africa’s education of its large and growing youth population in science should be a source of hope, antithetical to Thomas Malthus’ evil over-population claptrap  I will be posting an article on this in the near future. 

 

May 28, 2020

Click to access PB+45+-+Klinger+-+China+Africa+Space+Satellites.pdf

 

Marie Korsaga is the first female astrophysicist in West Africa.

Dr. MARIE KORSAGA* I am an astrophysicist and originally from Burkina Faso. My research focuses on the distribution of dark matter, and visible matter in galaxies. In simple terms, it must be said that visible matter, that is to say, ordinary matter made up of protons, neutrons, electrons, everything that is observable with our devices, represents only about 5% of the universe — the rest is invisible matter, distribute as follows: 26% dark matter and 68% dark energy.

Dark matter, with its gravitational force is used to explain the fact that galaxies remain close to each other, while dark energy causes the universe to expand faster over time. So we cannot speak of understanding the universe if we only know about 5% of its constituents. So, to understand our universe, that is to say, to be able to account for its formation and evolution, it is essential to understand what dark matter and dark energy are.

Dark matter, as its name suggests, is something that you cannot see with even the most sophisticated telescopes. So far, no dark matter particles have ever been detected, nevertheless, we feel its presence thanks to its impact on gravity. The purpose of my research is to study how dark matter is distributed inside galaxies in order to better understand the formation and evolution of our universe, and therefore, the origin of life on Earth.

Beyond my research, I am interested in the development side of astronomy in Africa. For this, I work at the Office of Astronomy for Development on a project which consists in using astronomy as a factor of development almost everywhere in the world, but especially in the developing countries, by supporting projects related to education, educational tourism and so on.

Speaking of education, it is important to remember that according to the African Union, Africa has the youngest population in the world, with more than 40% of its young people under the age of 15, which will produce a demographic explosion in the next 10 years. This population growth has disadvantages, but also advantages. The downside is that if measures are not taken, such as access to quality education for boys and girls, especially in science, these young people, instead of becoming a source of development for the continent, risk, rather to be a source of socio-economic political instability and conflict, which will further plunge the continent into misery.

However, the advantage of this population growth is that through a well-developed education system, this demographic growth, if accompanied by strong measures both on the side of public policies and the private sector, will be a great source of sustainable development, at the economic and political level of the continent. For this, it is very important to make significant investments in the field of education, with a focus on innovation, science and technology.

It should be noted that today, African graduates mainly graduate from the literary and human sciences fields. STEM students — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — represent only 25% of the workforce on average, according to the World Bank. In addition, women are underrepresented in these areas. Take my case: I am the first woman to obtain a doctorate in astrophysics in Burkina, and even in West Africa. It may sound flattering, but it reveals a rather disturbing diagnosis, despite being a light of hope. Indeed, even if the region has a dozen doctorates in the field, there are almost no women among them.

Unfortunately, this shows that we are still a long way from achieving gender parity in science, and there is still much to do. This requires a change in mentalities and the accessibility of science to women, especially among the underprivileged. It is not unknown that a career in astrophysics requires a course in physics, which is not obvious for women in our societies where the majority of people think that the scientific fields are dedicated to men, and that women must go to the literary streams. This has the effect of discouraging women from opting for long studies, especially in the scientific fields, and even if they opt for them, they tend to give up at the first obstacles, due to the lack of encouragement.

Today, I can say that I have broken this barrier, at my level, and I would like to take advantage of the privilege to inspire and encourage as many young girls as I can, to opt for it.

It is true that today there are efforts being made by several governments to break these stereotypes with, for example, the NEF, the Next Einstein Forum in Rwanda, which is a platform for popularizing science, and which offers opportunities for students through scholarships of the network of women in science, called OWSD, the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World, which gives opportunities to girls and women in STEM fields.

However, there is still a lot to do, because the representation of women in science is far from being reached. Beyond research, I intend to contribute to the training of young people in science in Burkina Faso, and in Africa in general, by giving courses at universities, and also supervising masters and PhD students. I also plan to take action to popularize science education in general, and astrophysics in particular in countries where access to science is limited. This will serve to motivate young girls and boys, especially young girls, to take up scientific studies. There are also other future actions that I plan to undertake, in collaboration with other researchers, namely the establishment of scientific schools in Africa, particularly dedicated to women; the organization of workshops to enable female scientists to speak about their inspiring work, and cultivate self-confidence. The creation of an astronomy club for children, etc.

In addition to being fascinating as a science, astronomy can also be used as a development tool through, for example, education and tourism. The International Astronomical Union understands this and is making a lot of effort to address this development component in developing countries, and working to achieve a Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations.

The typical example, in Sub-Saharan Africa is the case of South Africa, where the installation of telescopes in localities has not only facilitated the popularization of science and the creation of jobs for young people, but also has boosted the economy, and the development of infrastructure in these localities.

The current context in which we, notably the COVID-19 pandemic, reminds us of how important science must occupy our lives and our education system. This importance must convince the African authorities that it is more than necessary to devote a large part of national budgets to the support and the promotion of studies and of scientific research, because investment in human capital remains a secure means for the growth of a country. Above all, we must understand that to get our continent out of underdevelopment, we will have to review our way of executing these programs, focusing on education, training in science, technology, and innovation, especially space science, could not only increase our human potential, which is a source of sustainable development, but also enable the management of our natural resources and thus impact the economy in the continent.

Africa has an immense amount of natural resources, essential to the development of industry. It is necessary to arrive at a point where these resources are exploited, first for its development, by women and men trained on the continent and with compatible techniques.

Thank you for offering me the opportunity to share my thoughts on the necessity of education in science in Africa.

*Unedited remarks delivered to an international online conference organized by the Schiller Institute, April 25-26, 2020

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