Making Science Work for Transnational African Collaborations and Inclusive Growth

Moderator: Mr. Sydney Sproul, Uganda National Academy of Sciences 

Panelist: Dr Christian Acemah, Uganda National Academy of Science

Panelist: Prof Thandi Mgwebi, Tshwane University of Technology

Panelist: Dr Oladoyin Odubanjo, Nigerian Academy of Science

Panelist: Dr Sally Stansfield, Deloitte Consulting

Panelist: Prof Frans Swanepoel, University of Pretoria

In 2014, the collective African Science Academies published a consensus study entitled Mindset Shifts for Ownership of Our Continent’s Development Agenda addressing what it would take for African countries to lift themselves out of poverty, and to develop in a manner consistent with the needs and desires of their people. While the report provided clear recommendations and a framework for future development activities based on comprehensive, up-to-date, and interdisciplinary evidence, its uptake remains poor amongst African countries, national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and international development partners alike. Despite bringing together some of the best minds on the continent to address a critical question at issue and the provision of a conclusive answer, there remains a major gap between the provision of knowledge & information and its application.
To that end, UNAS proposes to host a session on this critical question of the bridge between theory and practice, using examples from the national academies across Africa to discuss tactics and methods by which the best products of science have been able to make the transition from knowledge to application. With the vast array of examples that are available to draw from, including country ownership, this session will ignite a discussion on the different elements that prompt and drive action. As a result, implementers, policy-makers, and academics alike will gain insight into the process of making the transition between knowledge generation and dissemination and its application for societal benefit.
The selection of examples that the panel will use aims to provide a continental view on the numerous occasions where National Academies provided input into topical or immediate issues and received differing levels of feedback. In particular, dissemination of the report on country ownership, which was released at the Annual Meeting of the African Science Academies in 2014 (AMASA-10), has seen little or no clear indicators of application in countries across Africa despite its connections and references to both continental and global development declarations. Another example is the report entitled Diversity in Human Sexuality, which attempted to address questions of the natural or unnatural basis for sexuality and gender identification—a topic of critical importance in Uganda—but has seen limited or close to non-existent discussion following its publication. These two consensus studies are a selection of reports that did not enjoy the same transition from dissemination to application compared to the experience of the Nigerian Academy of Science during the Ebola crisis, who did not produce a report per say but was widely seen as the leader of scientific information used for control, monitoring, and surveillance of the Ebola crisis.
By bringing together a panel of distinguished leaders from different academies on the continent and scholars who contributed to these reports, a dialogue as to what it will take to change policy using science can be ignited to the forum’s benefit.

Mr. Sydney Sproul, Uganda National Academy of Sciences 

Mr. Sydney Sproul is Strategic Initiatives and Development Officer at the Uganda National Academy of Sciences (UNAS). In this role, he conceptualizes, nurtures, and mobilizesresources  to execute key UNAS programs.   He also provides advice to UNAS’ chief executive on programmatic issues. Some of the projects under his supervision are the Forum on Transparency and Accountability (FOTA), the Forum on the Advancement of Professionalism, Ethics, and Service (FORPES), and the Forum on Children, Youth, and Families (FCYF).  Prior to joining UNAS, he worked as a front-line primary care paramedic within the British Columbian Ambulance Service (BCAS) in rural British Columbia, Canada. He holds a Bachelor of Liberal Sciences & Arts with a specialty in philosophy.  As part of his thesis at Quest University Canada (QUC), he examined the question of “How do we excel?” by doing an analysis of virtue, ethics, and psychology.


Dr.  Christian Acemah,Uganda National Academy of Sciences

Christian Acemah is Executive Secretary of the Uganda National Academy of Sciences (UNAS), where he leads on all strategic, programmatic, financial, and administrative issues of the Academy’s secretariat.  He is also Visiting Professor of African Studies at Quest University, Canada, where he teaches a range of courses on African development, politics, feminism, and the arts.  Prior to joining UNAS, Christian was Director for Strategy and Program Development for the African Science Academy Development Initiative of the U.S. National Academies. Christian has also served as Executive Officer, Policy and Research at UNICEF within the GAVI Alliance Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland. In that role, he was an advisor to the CEO of GAVI. Prior to that, he worked in the Sudan-Uganda program of the Lutheran World Federation/Department for World Service on livelihoods projects and HIV/AIDS advocacy, monitoring, and evaluation.  He has also been a development economics researcher for Dr. Callisto Madavo, former Vice President of the World Bank and development anthropology researcher for Prof. Gwendolyn Mikell at Georgetown University. He holds a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM and Master of Science degree in International Development Economics and Strategy from Georgetown University in Washington, DC.


Prof. Thandi MgwebiTshwane University of Technology

Prof. Thandi Mgwebi is the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Tswane University of Technology.  Previously, she was Director of Research and the Director of the South African Systems Analysis Centre (SASAC) at the University of the Western Cape. Prior to her appointment at UWC, she was the Executive Director for Research Chairs and Centres of Excellence at the NRF. She obtained her degrees BSc, BSc (Hons), MSc and Higher Diploma in Education (HDE) at a young age. Her early research career included work as a postdoctoral fellow in the South African Aids Vaccine Initiative (SAAVI) at UCT. She serves in various capacities including the co-chair of the World Sustainability Forum 2017, special panelist for the DST’s Women in Science Initiative, long-standing member of the Advisory Board of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences and a member of the Advisory Board of the UNESCO Africa Chair in Nanosciences & Nanotechnology.



Dr. Mobolaji Oladoyin Odubanjo, Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS)

Dr Oladoyin Odubanjo is the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Academy of Science and the Chairman of the steering committee of the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA) He holds a basic medical degree (MBBS), a postgraduate Diploma in Child Health (DCH), and a public health master’s degree in Mother and Child Health (MSc). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health (FRSPH) and the Chairman of the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (Lagos Chapter).

His experience spans the public and private sectors, as well as the non-profit sector. He was a Medical Officer in the employment of a state government in Nigeria which saw him work in 5 hospitals across the state. Dr Odubanjo’s sojourn into the non-profit sector started as a medical student when he founded a volunteer-based non-profit organisation. He has gone on to work as a volunteer for a non-profit organisation in the United Kingdom. He has served on the Board of the Global Organisation for Maternal and Child Health (GoMCH) USA. He is also an Advisor to the Centre for Palliative Care Nigeria (CPCN), an organisation at the forefront of establishing Palliative Medicine in Nigeria.


Dr. Sally Stansfield, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Dr. Stansfield is a globally recognized leader in public health strategy. In her more than 30 years of professional experience, Dr. Stansfield has advised governments, private institutions, and commercial entities on strategy, metrics, monitoring & evaluation, and health systems strengthening. She has been a trusted advisor at the highest levels within the World Health Organization, where she served as the Executive Secretary of the Health Metrics Network. In this capacity, she established and led a global health partnership to strengthen country health information systems in more than 85 countries, mobilizing more than $1 billion in critical new funding. For the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Stansfield served as Associate Director for the Foundation’s Global Health Initiatives. Dr. Stansfield has received several notable awards, including the Yale Tercentennial Medal, a Public Health Service Commendation and a Fulbright Research Fellowship. She maintains an active medical licensure in the state of Washington and is a Fellow of the Uganda National Academy of Sciences.  Dr. Stansfield holds a Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Washington and a Bachelor of Science in Psychological Anthropology.


Prof. Frans Swanepoel, University of Pretoria

Prof Frans Swanepoel is a Research Fellow in Residence with focus on Future Africa at the Centre for Advancement of Scholarship at the University of Pretoria (UP), South Africa. He is former Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation, and Professor at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), South Africa. He holds an appointment as Visiting Fellow at the Institute for African Development (IAD) at Cornell University, USA.. He currently chairs a consensus panel appointed by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) on the revitalization of Agricultural Education, Training and Research in SA. He serves in various capacities, including as Board Member, and previously as Vice-Chairperson and Acting Chairperson, on the Board of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in SA – ministerial appointment. He also serves as board member of the Gates-funded African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) initiative based in Kenya (; and the continental Science Granting Councils Initiative ( funded by DfID and IDRC.






By | 2017-11-30T09:16:16+00:00 October 6th, 2017|