23rd Colloquium of African Geology held in South Africa - the “Home of Geology”

Pretoria, 31 January 2011- From 8 to 14 January 2011, the University of Johannesburg hosted one of the largest events in the field of geosciences to take place in South Africa since 1929. The 23rd Colloquium of African Geology, a biennial scientific meeting organised conjointly between the Geological Society of Africa and the host country, brought together important South African geologists as well as a number of geologists from other African countries and from other continents, to discuss issues related to earth sciences and to present advances in the field, while tabling possible solutions to the problems experienced on the African continent.

Opening the event at the Soweto Campus of the University of Johannesburg, Ms Naledi Pandor – Minister of Science and Technology – remarked that South Africa, like her fellow African countries, “must work harder at expanding its investment in knowledge-generation and innovation… to strengthen our Science and Technology achievements (for) sustained growth in Africa”. Drawing from the DST’s ten year-plan for South Africa, Ms Pandor emphasised the need to promote geosciences education by increasing public awareness of the paramount role that geosciences play in addressing national development goals. One of the main objectives of the ten-year plan for South Africa, which the French government supports firmly, is to attract more students for tertiary studies in the fields of S&T, which will ultimately contribute to the transformation of South Africa into a knowledge-based economy. Because of the importance of replenishing human capacity at a sufficient rate, the UNESCO initiative on earth science education in Africa was launched during the week-long colloquium.

France and South Africa enjoy a fruitful bilateral collaboration, specifically in the fields of Science and Technology. Among the numerous delegates from French research institutions, Dr Philippe Rossi, President of the Commission for the Geological Maps of the World, France (http://ccgm.free.fr/ccgm_gb.html) delivered a plenary lecture and chaired a business meeting on the topic concerning “Launching the 1/10M Tectonic Map of Africa (TeMAf)”, Prof Georges Calas (University Paris 6), delivered a keynote address on “Mineralogy, Applied Mineralogy and Environmental Mineralogy: bridging the gap from Microscopic to Macroscopic", Profs Jacques Touret (ENS, Paris) and Michel Cuney (University of Nancy) presented two short courses in the field of “fluid inclusions” and “uranium geology” respectively.

Moreover, in recognition to the outstanding achievements made by some French geologists in the field of Earth Science Education and geoscience in Africa, a special scientific symposia was organised during CAG23 in honor of Prof Russel Black (1930-2009) from the Museum National of Natural History (Paris).

Africa is rich in mineral and natural resources and, with continued reinforcement of the infrastructure, geologic analytical facilities, human capacity and networking between the different countries, the continent has the potential to effectively address issues such as poverty, disease and natural disasters.

South Africa, which possesses a unique geological history dating back 3 700 billion years, is a strategic location for research in the field of geosciences with Johannesburg as the economic hub of Southern Africa, OR Thambo International Airport as the main airport for connecting flights to the rest of the continent and easy access for scientists from other African countries. Furthermore, the country is rich in fauna, flora and wildlife with an ideal climate, history and culture.

The CAG23, which was co-sponsored by the French Embassy, BRGM, IRD and UNESCO, served simultaneously as preparation for the IGC 35 which is scheduled to be held in Cape Town in 2016.

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Participants at the CAG23 Colloquium that was held at the University of Johannesburg from 8 - 14 January 2011

Further information on the event can be obtained at www.cag23.co.za

publie le 14/02/2011

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