Come Back: How Africa Attracts Its Young Scientists

Moderator: Dr Luc Allemand,

Panelist: Prof Tony Ezomé, Masuku University of Science and Technology

Panelist: Dr Anton Le Roex, University of Cape Town

Panelist: Dr Patience Mthunzi-Kufa, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

Panelist: Dr Tantely Razafimbelo, University of Antananarivo

Panelist: Dr Komminist Weldemariam, IBM Research Africa

Thousands of young African scientists are currently preparing a PhD outside the continent. How many of them will contribute to the scientific and technological development of their countries?

If they go back in Africa after some years in Europe or in America, will they find a place where they will be able to use their skills? How can they maintain international collaborations? How can they remedy to the lack of experimental means in many universities? If they cannot find satisfying answers to these questions and many others, there is a high risk that they do not come back.

However, there are also numerous examples of successful careers for African scientists in Africa. These examples could inspire young scientists, and help them to find out their way on the continent. They could also be used as a basis to discuss actions that could be taken by universities, companies, and even states. This session aims to tell some of these successful stories, and to discuss to what extend they could be generalized.

It is part of a wider effort to discuss this topic. Especially, the Young African Scientists in Europe meeting will be held 6th July 2018, as a satellite event of ESOF 2018 in Toulouse, France.


Dr Luc Allemand, Afriscitech

Luc Allemand has been a science journalist in France for nearly 25 years. Especially, he wrote and edited papers for Pour la Science (French edition of Scientific American) and for La Recherche (where he has been the editor in chief for many years).As such, he has a long experience of debating every kind of issues about science and its relations to society.
In 2016, he launched, a popular science website dedicated to the science produced in Africa. Its first targets are science students and academics in Africa : too often, they are not aware of the scientific research done in their own country or in neighbouring countries.
Luc Allemand is also the main organizer of the conference YASE – Young African Students in Europe, which will be held in July 2018 in Toulouse, France, as a satellite event of ESOF 2018. It will be the first european conference dedicated to the specific questions and issues concerning these young African scientists. He then particularly analyzed the origins of the brain drain of these scientists, and also some (but not all) solutions.


Dr Tony Ezomé,Masuku University of Science and Technology

Tony Ezomé studied at Masuku University of Science and Technology. He then completed a master degree in Paul-Sabatier University, in Toulouse, France, where he also received a PhD in mathematics. He conducts research in cryptography. He leads the Mathematics Research Center and its applications in information security in sub-Saharan Africa (PRMAIS). He is also a member of the International Laboratory for Research in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics (LIRIMA, Inria, France), where he co-leads the team “Mathematics applied to cryptology and information security in Africa”.



Dr Anton Le Roex,Cape Town University

His research interests lie in understanding the geochemical composition and evolution of mafic igneous rocks, their differentiates and their mantle source regions. The role of mantle plumes in the generation of intra-plate magmatism, both within oceanic and continental regions, the origin of their geochemical characteristics and their interaction with surrounding asthenospheric and overlying lithospheric mantle are fundamental foci of his current research. He hold a PdD from University of Cape Town where he works since 1982. He has been a post-doctoral fellow at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Massachusetts, USA) and a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii


Dr Patience Mthunzi-Kufa,Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s biophotonics research

Patience Mthunzi-Kufa studied at Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg). She completed a PhD in physics in the University of St Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom. She is the research group leader for biophotonics, specialising in advancing point-of-care diagnostics. She has published several popular science papers, peer-reviewed journal and conference articles, filed invention disclosures and graduated postgraduate students. During September 2011, she was one of only four outstanding young scientists selected by the Academy of Science of South Africa to attend and participate in the IAP/World Economic Forum’s Summer Davos conference in Dalian, China. In April 2012, she was bestowed the Order of Mapungubwe in Bronze for her contribution in biochemistry and biophotonics by President Jacob Zuma, making her the youngest recipient of such an honour.


Dr Tantely Razafimbelo,University of Antananarivo

Tantely Razafimbelo, born and raised in Madagascar, came in France to complete a Master (at Institut national agronomique Paris-Grignon) and a PhD (from Montpellier SupAgro) in soil sciences. She then came back in her home country to get a permanent position at the University of Antananarivo. She has a “Habilitation à diriger les recherches” from the University of Antananarivo. She is also a coordinator of the Soil Carbon Network for Sustainable agriculture in Africa.


Dr Komminist Weldemariam,IBM Research Africa

Komminist Weldemariam began his academic education in Ethopia, where he was born. He got a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. Then he went to India, where he passed a Master’s degree in technology from India Institute of Technology, Bombay. He earned his Doctorate degree in computer science from Trento University, in Italy. He has been tenure track researcher at the Bruno Kessler Foundation in Italy, and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Queen’s University, in Canada. He received a Managerial Choice Award from IBM. he has also been distinguished as Emerging Young Scientist by the World economic Forum, and as a Next Einstein Forum Fellow. Since 2015, he has a permanent position with IBM research Africa in Nairobi, Kenya.