Science Advice Skills Development Program (SASDP) -
Program Report

Executive Summary

Science advice is a key area for science capacity development in Africa. It has the potential to create notable contributions to developing research and innovation in Africa. The scientific community in the African continent is engaged in a range of scientific research in different areas, specifically to address the continent’s various challenges.  The employment of relevant African scientific knowledge in decision making must be emphasized as this is important for society. There is an urgent need for effective communication to connect scientists and policymakers. There is also a responsibility for scientists to convey their knowledge and findings of their research to policy makers, and to the public.

INGSA-Africa, the Regional Chapter of the International Network for Government Science Advice, in its aim to build capacity of African Scientists across Africa for effective communication of science advice, developed a mentorship Program – Science Advice Skills Development Program (SASDP) that ran over a period of 3 months in 2022.  The objective of the SASDP was to support mid-career African scientists and researchers in strengthening their skills to communicate their research results and viewpoints as science advice to their identified audiences and to foster their overall development.

The theme of the SASDP was Climate Change in Africa, focusing on areas of Health, Water, Energy and Food Security. INGSA-Africa launched the Call for Mentees in June 2022 and invited relevant organizations (recognized academic or research institutions; Academies of Science) in Africa, which are engaged in science advice, to nominate qualified staff as mentees under its Science Advice Skills Development Program (SASDP). More than 30 applications were received from a range of African organisations. Call for mentors were launched simultaneously inviting experienced professionals, policy-active scientists/researchers/policy makers, preferably in a field connected to climate change with the capacity to provide voluntarily one-to-one mentorship to mid-career African scientists interested in learning about, and contributing to, science advice.

Ten mid-career scientists and researchers from 8 African countries were selected for participation in the mentorship program. Expertise, common interests and language of communication were considered when determining the pairing of mentor-mentees. Mentees were paired with 10 mentors from 8 different countries, from continental, regional or national agencies.

The SASDP started with a contact phase in the form of a virtual mentor-mentee introductory workshop on 14 September 2022 where core topics - such as introduction to tools for transformative policy advice and experiences, balancing political realities and scientific advice and the role of science in addressing climate change in the African continent - were addressed by invited specialists in science advice. The SASDP officially concluded through a virtual workshop on 15 December 2022, where findings and outputs of mentorship program were shared by the mentees while the mentors discussed their experience engaging with mentors. The program was also presented to representatives of the parent organisation, INGSA, at a workshop organized on 5 December 2022 as a side-event of the World Science Forum in Cape Town, South Africa.


The SASDP mentees, mentors, a short bios and the projects they worked on are listed below:

  1. Dr Temitope O. Sogbanmu, Nigeria/ Professor Paul Arthur Berkman, USA

Mentee: Dr Temitope O. Sogbanmu, Nigeria

Dr. Sogbanmu holds a doctorate degree in Environmental Toxicology and Pollution Management with several years of experience in the risk assessment and management of organic pollutants in various matrices. She is the Founder/Lead of the EUEPiN Project through which she engages various stakeholders including policymakers, practitioners and researchers in the ‘environmental evidence ecosystem’ to facilitate evidence-informed decision making (EIDM). Dr Sogbanmu is a Lecturer at the University of Lagos, an ardent researcher with several publications, multiple award/grant winning scholar, NYA Vice President as well as an Advocate of the UN SDGs, AU Agenda 2063, Evidence for Policy and Science Communication.

Mentor: Professor Paul Arthur Berkman, USA

Professor Paul Arthur Berkman is a science diplomat, applying, training and refining informed decisionmaking to balance national interests and common interests for the benefit of all on Earth across generations.  Prof. Berkman is the Founder and President of the Science Diplomacy Center™, serving also as  a Faculty Associate with the Program on Negotiation (PON) at Harvard Law School and Associate Director of Science Diplomacy in the Harvard-MIT Public Disputes Program as well as an Associated Fellow with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).  Among his many awards, most recently the United States Department of State and Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs awarded Prof. Berkman the Fulbright Arctic Chair 2021-2022

Project: The Global Indigenous Youth Summit on Climate Change (GIYSCC) - dialogue convened by, for and among indigenous youths of the world.