05 April 2020
AfAS – One Year On
Renewed Commitment and Extended Mission in a World in Crisis
Dear Colleagues and Fellow Astronomers
Just over three weeks ago, the AfAS Executive Committee took a difficult decision to defer its first annual scientific conference (AfAS2020), which would have been held in Cape Town from 16-19th March 2020 – this would have been a good milestone after the re-launch of AfAS last year in March. Since then, we are now living in a quite different World! Almost all countries are now affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, with many in “lockdown” mode, even if, at this point in time, Africa has a relatively low incidence rate compared to the rest of the World. We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our colleagues and fellow astronomers good health and safe living during this difficult time. The plan now is for the AfAS conference to take place early next year on 8-11 March 2021, and we have commenced early preparations for this. Details will be published in due course.
These recent events have, however, not dimmed our eagerness to continue to grow AfAS and there is now an exciting development that we wish to share with you, which we would have discussed at AfAS2020 during the business meeting. Through its partnership with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) in South Africa, AfAS has secured additional funding (for the next three years) that will enable it to establish a stronger secretariat consisting of three staff members, as well as larger budget for AfAS projects and activities. In addition, AfAS will serve as an umbrella organisation for other Pan-African astronomy initiatives funded by the South African Government, including the African Planetarium Association (APA), the African-European Radio Astronomy Programme (AERAP), and African Science Stars (full details of these projects will soon be available on the AfAS website). AfAS will provide oversight for these projects as well as appropriate inputs to ensure that their objectives are met. The ability of AfAS to fulfill its basic mandate (i.e. leading the growth of astronomy throughout the continent) is now stronger than ever. These exciting developments will also enable us to be better prepared at the African level for the IAU-2024 General Assembly, which will be held in Cape Town.
As always, the AfAS Executive Committee welcomes your input and suggestions as we strive to build a strong and effective organisation that serves the African continent.
RegardsAfAS President: Jamal Mimouni