African Chapter President's Column - December 2019
The African Chapter is currently celebrating its one-year anniversary and when I look back to where we started, where we are today,where we are going and the achievements we have made to this day, I just feel so blessed to be leading such a progressive society. We are slowly getting there!
We had our very first annual Board of Directors meeting in early September in Stellenbosch, South Africa, where we also inaugurated the Chapter’s first elected permanent board. I had the pleasure to meet with my fellow board members (who came from all corners of Africa) face to face for the first time as well as the Chapter formation Steering Committee - a dedicated team based in South Africa that was instrumental in laying the foundation for Chapter formation. It was also a special moment to personally recognize and thank representatives from the South African government, University of Stellenbosch, Africa Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) for all efforts and support during the Chapter formation phase.
Although this board meeting appeared to be a first learning experience to most board members present, we managed to deliberate on the Chapter’s Strategic Plan in line with its objectives. The meeting gave board members direction and invigorated them to hit the ground running and make necessary decisions to sustain the Chapter. I’m indebted to WAS Executive Director John Cooksey and Dr. Kevan Main (WAS AC Ad hoc Chairperson), who took time from their very busy schedules to grace the meeting and provide advisory support.
I am now in the process of finalizing the establishment of the necessary working committees that will address Chapter’s business activities during the year, in line with Chapter bylaws and the Strategic Plan, thus implementing Board recommendations. I will be announcing the names of Committee members soon. Thanks to the advisory team for assisting me in getting this done.
My column in the next issue of World Aquaculture will focus more on some of the activities happening in the African region, spearheaded by our Board members, committees and the African Chapter membership at large. Now that our structures are in place, it is time to cement our position as a professional society that meaningfully contributes to sustainable aquaculture development in Africa.
Most importantly, let’s keep in mind that, about one year from now, the inaugural annual international conference and exposition (Aquaculture Africa 2020 or AFRAQ2020) has been fully confirmed in Alexandria, Egypt. Dates are now fixed for 28 November to 1 December 2020. The venue will be the famous ceremony happened in Cairo on 4 September and was graced at highest level by the state’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation. This also marked the signing of the conference hosting agreement between WAS and the Egyptian government, represented by the General Authority for Fish Resources Development (GAFRD). Other collaborating partners include the Central Laboratory for Aquaculture Research (CLAR), WorldFish, the Egyptian Aquaculture Society (EgAS) and some local universities. The Conference Steering Committee (which includes the Program Committee) and National Organizing Committee have been established and have begun all preparatory work. A draft conference program has now been developed. The theme of the conference is “Sustainable Aquaculture: Feeding Africa.”
A number of support and sponsoring organizations have come on board. These include traditional WAS Premier Sponsors and of course Aller Aqua, our very own Chapter Founding Gold Sponsor, which has reaffirmed their commitment to be a AFRAQ2020 Gold Sponsor. I am overly enchanted by the level of excitement coming from our membership, partners and friends who are all highly expectant, looking forward to coming to Egypt for AFRAQ2020.
The brochure announcing AFRAQ2020 has now been released in all four major African languages (English, French, Portuguese and Arabic) and is being publicized widely. Look for the AFRAQ2020 page on the WAS website soon.
Lastly, allow me to make a special tribute to our Chapter Executive Officer (Secretariat) - Blessing Mapfumo, who has been working tirelessly, diligently and proactively on all Chapter business activities during the year, specifically in driving communication for AFRAQ2020, organizing the Chapter’s first annual board meeting in South Africa and for being an essential communication interface on the African Chapter’s day-to-day activities. I feel so blessed to have such a dedicated and results-oriented professional within my team.
Let me also wish WAS management, membership and our readers at large Happy Holidays. Let’s catch up again on the other side – 2020!
— Sherif Sadek, President