The Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Excellence Awards for 2017 were presented during the official opening of the 30th African Union Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 28th January 2018. The awards were presented by President Paul Kagame, newly elected Chair of the African Union, and Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission. The EU was represented at the Opening Ceremony by Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development.
The prestigious Award programme was launched by the AU in 2009 and the EU has been supporting it since 2012, with the allocation of USD 603,048 in 2017 alone. The Awards aim to encourage research contributing to the wellbeing and improved quality of life of African citizens.
The 2017 laureates of the continental awards are:
For the Earth and Life Science Award: Professor Robert P. Millar from South Africa has carried out world-class research on peptide regulators of reproductive hormones. He pioneered the discovery of the Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) prohormone, novel GnRH structures, and the first cloning of the GnRH I and GnRH II receptors. He has participated in, and led, a number of programmes developing GnRH analogues for use in a wide range of clinical pathologies. His research opened up markets for the primary treatment of prostatic cancer, precocious puberty (the sole treatment), hormone-dependent diseases in women (e.g. endometriosis) and for In Vitro Fertilization. Since 2016, he has been the Director of the Center of Neuroendocrinology at the University of Pretoria.
For the Basic Science, Technology and Innovation Award: Algerian Professor Maaza Malik is the pioneer and the architect of nanosciences and nanotechnology in Africa. His long history in stimulating academic excellence and communication between academia, researchers, local communities and society within the continent gained him the international recognition of UNESCO, which bestowed him the 1st South-South Chair: the UNESCO UNISA Africa Chair in Nanosciences & Nanotechnology in South Africa. Prof. Maaza has pioneered and implemented numerous continental and national initiatives such as the African Laser Centre, the Nanosciences African Network, the National Laser Centre of South Africa (NLC SA) and the South African Nanotechnology initiative (SANi).
Each of the awardees received a cheque of 100,000 USD to further boost their research capacity in the fields of Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation and Life and Earth Sciences. The European Union wishes to express its congratulations to the two laureates of these prestigious awards.