Build bridges between Africa’s research islands

Small African countries are often overlooked by big international research funders, but pooling resources could give them a leg-up, writes Simiso Mkhonta. It takes a village to raise a child. This was so real during my childhood years at Makhewu village near Siteki town in eastern Eswatini. Parenthood was a collective responsibility for all the […]

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Africa’s first indigenous astronomy PhD wants to revive ‘negated’ knowledge

Growing up, Motheo Koitsiwe used to listen to his grandmother tell stories about the night sky. She spoke of selemela (the Pleiades), molalatladi (the Milky Way), mphatlalatsane (Venus), and ngwedi (the Moon). These stories were not just meant to entertain. For the ancestors of the Batswana people who live in Botswana and South Africa today, […]

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Brains by the sea: Computational neuroscience gains a foothold in Africa

The rich waters of False Bay, near Cape Town in South Africa, have sustained nomadic human tribes for tens of thousands of years. But over the last three years it has also become the starting point of an African journey to answer one of humanity’s great unsolved questions: how does the brain work? Computational neuroscience […]

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South Africa’s brand-new MeerKAT telescope: We ain’t seen nothing yet

Last month, South Africa’s MeerKAT telescope discovered giant bubbles at the centre of our galaxy. This is the telescope’s second major finding—the first was one of the most magnetic objects in the Universe, a rare type of neutron star called a magnetar. But both of these discoveries were ‘accidents’, scientists say, and they are excited […]

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The Birdman of Ibadan: ‘Small actions can yield big results’

Adewale Awoyemi is a Nigerian ornithologist who coordinates the Ibadan Bird Club and manages the city’s International Institute of Tropical Agriculture Forest Center. Here he writes about his passion for conservation and how he earned the nickname ‘father of birds’.  ————– Ibadan is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest cities by surface area. Anthropogenic activities in […]

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Mending a broken world with the help of science—and Madame Curie

Amal Amin, a polymer scientist at Egypt’s National Research Center, explains how the 9/11 terror attacks inspired her lifelong drive to build unity and peace through science. The world turned upside down the day after I returned to Egypt. I had just completed the lab work for my chemistry PhD in Germany, and on 10 […]

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How Africa’s space rocks are driving planetary science

One-fifth of all the meteorites found on Earth have been discovered in Africa, and the number of locals studying them is growing. In early June last year, Roger Gibson was watching the news when a meteorite sighting was reported not far from Johannesburg in South Africa where he lives. A security camera on a farm […]

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Options for keeping the lights on in Ghana

The thunk-thunk-thunk of generators is a common background noise in cities and villages where electrical power supplies are erratic. In Ghana, the government is investing in power generation capacity. But is it investing its money in the right technology? For a paper in Scientific African published in March 2019, four scientists from the country tested […]

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Exposing radioactivity in the building blocks that make up Accra

African cities are growing rapidly, with buildings mushrooming in major centers around the continent. But scientists in Ghana are concerned that building materials could be radioactive and play havoc with occupants’ health. “Normally, when you mention radiation, people think about a bomb,” says Francis Otoo, a scientist with the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission based in Accra. […]

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We’re very excited

To launch this first issue of Scientific African Magazine this month. When we launched Scientific African, peer-reviewed, open access, inter-and a multidisciplinary scientific journal that is dedicated to expanding access to African research, we got a lot of questions about how we would make sure policymakers and the public more broadly would know about the […]

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