More about the African Scientists Directory

The African Scientists Directory was collaboratively developed by the International Science Council (ISC) Regional Office for Africa (ROA) and the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), with funding made available by the South African Department of Science and Innovation. It is currently maintained by ISC ROA, with support from partners listed below. The directory was officially launched on 25 May 2020, as part of virtual Africa Day celebrations.

Department of Science and Innovation (South Africa)

The Department of Science and Innovation seeks to boost socio-economic development in South Africa through research and innovation. To achieve its goals, the Department provides leadership, an enabling environment and resources for science, technology and innovation. Through its Programmes (Administration; Technology Innovation; International Cooperation and Resources; Research Development and Support; and Socio-economic Innovation Partnerships) and several entities that work alongside it, the Department is accomplishing groundbreaking science and enhancing the well-being of all South Africans.

Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)

The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) was inaugurated in May 1996 by the former President of South Africa and patron of the Academy, Nelson Mandela. It was formed in response to the need for an academy of science congruent with the dawn of democracy in South Africa – an activist in its mission of using science for the benefit of society.

The mandate of the Academy encompasses all fields of scientific enquiry and it includes the full diversity of South Africa’s distinguished scientists. The Parliament of South Africa passed the Academy of Science of South Africa Act (Act 67 of 2001), as amended, which came into operation in May 2002.

ASSAf is the official national Academy of Science of South Africa and represents the country in the international community of science academies. Since its inception, ASSAf has grown from a small, emergent organisation to a well-established academy.

International Science Council Regional Office for Africa (ISC ROA)

The International Science Council (ISC) Regional Office for Africa (ROA) is currently hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) in Pretoria, South Africa. It is one of the ISC’s three Regional Offices; the other two are the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), and the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (was until December 2019 based in San Salvador, El Salvador). The Regional Offices work as integral parts of the ISC Global Secretariat on its four main functions: science, governance, communications, and support.

To realise its vision and mission, the ISC’s Action Plan focuses on the following 4 Domains of Impact:

  1. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: To achieve the 17 ambitious goals that aim to reduce inequality and poverty, and promote prosperity and peace, scientific knowledge from across all disciplines must have a major role to play in identifying transformative pathways towards the sustainable and equitable use of planetary resources.
  2. The Digital Revolution: Understanding and responding to the powerful opportunities and challenges that the digital revolution poses to both science and society is imperative, especially in an age of disruption and disinformation.
  3. Science in Policy and Public Discourse: Strengthening the use of scientific evidence in policy and public action will require robust institutional structures, skills and competencies that promote knowledge sharing, counteract misinformation and support relationships of trust between science and its wider publics.
  4. The Evolution of Science and Science Systems: For the progress of science and the essential benefits it provides in responding to increasing societal demands for solutions to today’s challenges, science systems must be open and agile, so they can adjust in ways that safeguard scientific freedom and advance scientific responsibility, rigour and relevance.

The Regional Offices seek to fulfil the ISC’s vision and mission in their respective regions of the globe through advancing the ISC agenda, delivering on the ISC activities and mobilizing the regional scientific community and relevant regional actors, thus ensuring the participation of the regional scientific community in ISC activities and strategy development.
ISC ROA, therefore, thrives to widen ISC membership and engagement, develop partnerships and synergies that enhance and strengthen regional/international research through integrated multi-disciplinary and trans-boundary collaborative activities and networks in Africa, aimed towards implementing the ISC Action Plan.
To improve these linkages and promote the development and strengthening of collaborative scientific research on the continent, it is paramount that there is a platform for the hosting of information related to the scientists on the continent as well as their institutions, expertise and research themes. This quest underscores the establishment of this African Scientists Directory by the ISC ROA, in collaboration with ASSAf and in partnership with other regional stakeholders. This initiative is being funded by the Department of Science and Innovation of South Africa.


Network of African Science Academies (NASAC)

All national academies of science (excl. the Egypt Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT)) fall under the umbrella organisation known as NASAC. NASAC was formed in 2001 in response to the need to create a platform where existing national science academies could synergistically provide evidence-based advice to the regional political powers, and to contribute to the establishment and strengthening of science academies in Africa.

African Academy of Sciences (AAS)

The African Academy of Sciences (The AAS) is a non-aligned, non-political, not-for-profit pan African organisation whose vision is to see transformed lives on the African continent through science.

Their tripartite mandate is recognising excellence through The AAS’ highly prestigious fellowship and award schemes, providing advisory and think tank functions for shaping Africa’s Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) strategies and policies and implementing key Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) programmes addressing Africa’s developmental challenges.

The STI that the Academy supports focuses on five strategic focus areas: Environment and climate change, health and wellbeing, natural sciences, policy and governance and social sciences and humanities.

The AAS recognises excellence through the election of AAS Fellows and Affiliates who are distinguished researchers who represent the continent’s talented and promising men and women from across the globe. The 460 Fellows, who are elected based on their publication record, innovation, leadership roles and contribution to policy, provide the strategic leadership to shape The AAS’s programmes, engage with governments to enable wise investment on the continent, serving as reviewers for AAS grant applications and mentor early-career scientists. The AAS also awards the Obasanjo Prize every two years to an outstanding scientist who contributes to the development of the continent.

The AAS has four platforms:

  • AAS Open Research, which is the Academy’s innovative, open access platform to enable AAS funded and affiliated researchers to publish immediately, without barriers and with the benefit of transparent review
  • The Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA), which is the programmatic arm of the Academy, created in partnership with the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD Agency). AESA provides the funding and agenda-setting to catalyse the development and implementation of STI programmes in Africa 
  • The Coalition for African Research and Innovation (CARI), which is a sustainability platform set up with The AAS and her partners to accelerate STI programmes in Africa
  • The Global Grant Community whose core is an innovative and integrated tool—the Good Financial Grant Practice standard—to standardise, simplify and strengthen financial governance of grant funding worldwide

The World Academy of Sciences Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Partner (TWAS-SAREP)

The World Academy of Sciences Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Partner (TWAS-SAREP) is one of five regional offices of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS). TWAS-SAREP has been hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) since March 2015.

TWAS-SAREP was previously based at the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) in Nairobi, Kenya.

The main objective of TWAS-SAREP is to promote and profile the activities of TWAS and its affiliated organisations in the region. This includes issuing of grants and awards, as well as enabling networking among TWAS fellows in Africa.

Other Partners

Women in Science

The vision of Women in Science is to grow more female scientists on the continent. Through connecting science institutions, government bodies and the media, the scientific achievements of women in Africa are showcased, creating more awareness. The Women in Science platform creates a space where Africa’s growing community of female students can find support, network with one another, and plant the seeds for new ideas and innovations, towards finding scientific solutions, benefitting Africa and its people.