A Young Academy in Democratic Republic of Congo

A new academy for young scientists in Africa.

In November 2018, Karine Ndjoko, the Director and General Manager of the Excellence Scholarship Program Bourse d’Excellence Bringmann aux Universités Congolaises (BEBUC), recruited 10 advanced BEBUC scholars to create the DRC Young Academy of Sciences (DRC-YAS) – in French Académie des Sciences pour les Jeunes en République Démocratique du Congo (ASJ-RDC) – a solid network that promotes science and interactions between Congolese young scientists to address challenges faced by the Congolese community.

These BEBUC scholars were recruited based on their proven track records of excellent academic research and international recognition, as authors of papers in reputed journals, recipients of major prizes or/and attendees at high-profile meetings. After organizing themselves into a structured Creation Committee, the recruited scholars started working on the DRC-YAS establishment in collaboration with the Global Young Academy as well as some national young academies (NYA/South Africa, Cameroon, Benin, etc.) and Congolese senior academics.

Addressing Congolese early career researchers

In September 2019, the Creation Committee launched the call for the DRC-YAS applications, addressing Congolese early career researchers within 7 years from the completion of their (first) PhD degree. The nominated candidates were evaluated by an international panel composed of three French speaking NYAs: Cameroon Academy of Young Scientists, Academy of Young Scientists of Benin, and Burundi NYA initiative. Of the 23 applicants evaluated, 16 were finely selected as the very first Effective Members of the DRC-YAS.

On the 28th of November 2020, the DRC-YAS was officially launched at the Université Panafricaine de Gouvernance et Innovation (UPGI) in Kinshasa, DRC’s capital city. The launching ceremony was partially supported by the Germano-Congolese NGO Förderverein Uni Kinshasa e.V., as well as the Effective and Honorary Members of the DRC-YAS.

Diversity of guests

The logistics was mainly covered by the administration committee of UPGI. In the presence of different categories of guests (e.g. government representatives, senior academics, advanced scholars, media and artists), the inaugural assembly was first marked by the welcoming messages from Virima Mudogo, co-founder of the Excellence Scholarship Program BEBUC, and the representative of the Minister of Youth and Novel Citizenship Initiative.

An important highlight was the appealing virtual address of the representative of Förderverein Uni Kinshasa e.V., Alfred Forchel, President of the University of Würzburg and upcoming President of BEBUC – he said: “When youth organizes itself to make science flourish and visible at international level, it is our duty to support them” – promising continuous partnership with the DRC-YAS.

Key concepts of the academies of sciences

In addition to the welcoming speeches, the audience was enlightened about the key concepts of the academies of sciences through stimulating talks delivered by reputed Congolese senior Professors; including Emily Bongeli (former Minister of Health) and Célestin Musau (Member of the Congolese Parliament). Noteworthy, most speakers saluted the committed support of BEBUC to the education of Congolese youth.

One of the speakers, Taba Kalulu (Co-Founder of the DRC Senior Academy Initiative), recommended that the DRC Academy of Sciences may award a prize to Gerhard Bringmann (Founder of BEBUC and President of Förderverein Uni Kinshasa e.V.) for his years of work within the DRC’s education sector. The talks were further enriched by productive interactions with other important academic guests such as Faculty Deans, Heads of Department as well as Administrators from the University of Kinshasa and University of Bandundu.

32 new academy members

Strikingly, all the DRC-YAS members were presented. These include the 10 Creation Committee members/DRC-YAS Founders, the selected 16 Effective Members and nominated 6 Honorary Members.

The DRC-YAS Honorary Members were nominated by the Founders based on their incredible support throughout the DRC-YAS creation process. These Honorary individuals encompass senior academics from the DRC, including Virima Mudogo (Chemistry, University of Kinshasa), Karine Ndjoko (Chemistry, University of Lubumbashi), Jean Liyongo (Political Sciences, University of Kinshasa) and Taba Kalulu (Chemistry, University of Kinshasa); but also one internationally renowned scientist – Gerhard Bringmann (Chemistry, University of Würzburg) – in recognition of his dedicated scientific and philanthropic support to the Congolese youth over many years.

First members assembly

Finally, the DRC-YAS executive members virtually elected on 26–27 November 2020 were introduced. The DRC-YAS co-chairs include:

  • Patrick B. Memvanga, Effective Member and President of the academy;
  • Christian I. Nkanga, Effective Member and Chair of the Creation Committee.

The very first general members assembly was held right after the launch ceremony.

Promotion of science

The DRC-YAS launch ceremony made a memorable event that triggered stakeholders’ interests to engage with the academy principle motor, “la science au service de la société”, and supports the members to reach the DRC-YAS objectives – which include:

  • to promote science as a career of choice for young Congolese people, and as an engine of socio-economic development;
  • to foster national, international and interdisciplinary collaborations among scientists;
  • to encourage the government, foundations and other philanthropic organizations to channel resources into scientific research projects.

Christian I. Nkanga, Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, University of Kinshasa

You can reach the DRC-YAS at contact@asjrdcongo.com

 Source: afriscitech.com