African Chapter President's Column - March 2020
This is my first column for 2020 — let me begin by welcoming you to a new decade and a new year 2020!
The past year has been a remarkable year for the African Chapter of WAS. The year marked the end of the “establishment phase,” where most of the Chapter’s foundational structures were successfully put in place. As I promised in my previous column, we have finished setting up and launched the necessary working eight committees that will work to advise the Board on decision-making processes and some ad hoc activities, in line with Chapter by-laws and our Strategic Plan. The committees consist of Chapter members in good standing, identified from the various regions of Africa and beyond, but with the relevant competencies to perform associated duties. I am looking forward to working with these committees to drive African Chapter business forward. I owe a debt of gratitude to many of you, our members, for agreeing to be part of these committees.
Looking ahead in 2020, we now want to hit the ground running. My utmost desire is to begin some tailored technical program of activities of relevance to influence aquaculture development on the continent, in line with WAS’s mandate and long-term Strategic Plan. This is what many of you have called for. Our Regional Directors (five regions of Africa: north, south, east, west and middle) have thus begun building up networks within their constituencies and will undertake some consultative mechanisms with members and partners to come up with implementable and partnership projects and possibly design a package of benefits for our members and aquaculture actors at large within those respective regions. This will affirm the Chapter’s overarching goal, to meaningfully contribute to sustainable aquaculture development in Africa. We will adopt the Start-Small-but-Dream-Big Concept.
Most of these efforts will be regularly publicized in a soon-to-be-launched periodical e-newsletter that will be linked to Aquaculture Africa magazine (to be revitalized soon). The African Chapter webpage will also be revamped and social media platforms enhanced to try to connect with many of our audience. I must admit though that we are a little behind on this activity as we had to set up an effective Publications and Communication Committee to assist in driving such activities.
As many of you know, our biggest focus and job this year will be the First Aquaculture Africa Conference (AFRAQ2020), scheduled for November 28 to December 1, 2020 at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria City, Egypt. So far so good! We are proceeding well with the necessary preparations and we will keep you updated through regular press releases. Remember to register early for both scientific conference with 20 topics and the exposition trade show with 60 booths! And please, spread the message widely. We would like as many participants to attend this prestigious event that we hope will generate the much-needed momentum for future AFRAQs.
On the regional scene, the Aquaculture Association for Southern Africa (AASA) Conference is back in the cards (23-27 March in Stellenbosch, South Africa). We are delighted to be participating in the event, thus fulfilling our partnership role with AASA, our key affiliate organization in Africa. I have been honored to be asked to give a keynote speech on a regional overview of aquaculture and the role of the African Chapter in regional aquaculture development. We also hope to do a promotional and outreach event that brings hundreds of AASA participants together to learn more on what we are doing, our short-term Strategic Plan as well as to promote AFRAQ20. We also hope to convene our First African Chapter Annual Business Meeting there — where I hope to meet several African Chapter members and partners from southern Africa. More information about the AASA Conference is available at www.aasa-aqua.co.za/conferences/.
Lastly, as you know, we are in a very difficult period because of the recent worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which has created so much chaos around the globe. Our aquaculture sector is beginning to feel the impact. International travel and trade restrictions will potentially dent our progress. In early March 2020, there were only two laboratories in Africa — one in Senegal and the other in South Africa — that had the reagents needed to test coronavirus samples. They have been working as referral laboratories for countries around the region. My thoughts and prayers are with those affected and to various nations in Africa and around the world who are battling relentlessly to contain the spread of this disease. I’m fully confident that we will continue to follow orderly steps that will fight to stop the spread of this virus.
On behalf of WAS African Chapter, I wish you all and your families a blessed, safe and productive second quarter of 2020. Let’s keep the momentum high and make the African Chapter great this year!
— Sherif Sadek, President