Launched in July 2004, AfricaArray is a visionary response to the call for continent-wide cooperation in human-resources development laid out in the Organisation for African Unity’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
Its mission is bold: To create new geoscientific research and training programmes and rebuild existing ones in Africa with Africans and for Africans.
Government, industry and academic institutions throughout Africa need highly trained geoscientists who are dedicated to building the African scientific community and who can play pivotal roles in the development and management of Africa’s mineral and petroleum wealth, as well as its water and geothermal resources.
But that need is not being met. While demand is growing for highly trained geoscientists and researchers, capacity in geoscience fields is extremely limited in much of Africa. In places where such capacity exists, financial pressures, competition for talent between industry and universities, and an inability to attract a sufficient number of historically disadvantaged students into academia threaten to undermine it.
AfricaArray is addressing that gap in human-resource capacity. It is rebuilding geoscience training in Africa through strategic and specialized programming that involves education and research at affiliated universities in Africa, the U.S. and Europe. AfricaArray also has pioneered an innovative model of training and research activities that can be adopted by a variety of other science and technology fields allied to Africa’s natural resource sector.
While the long-term vision for AfricaArray is to support training in many geoscience fields, initial efforts have focused on geophysics. Specific undertakings have included the development of new geophysical training programmes and expanded support of existing ones; promotion of geophysical research; and design and establishment of a network of geophysical observatories.
Central to AfricaArray are partnerships. AfricaArray grew out of a partnership of three organizations—the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa); the Council for Geoscience, formerly the South African Geological Survey (Pretoria, South Africa); and the Pennsylvania State University (University Park, PA, USA).
More recently, AfricaArray has built dozens of partnerships with universities, government institutions, and companies both inside and outside of Africa. Those partnerships provide much of the funding for AfricaArray’s academic programmes including a geophysics field course, the geophysical observatories, bursary or scholarship programmes and research projects throughout Africa.