Cape Town, 26 May 2021 — The African Astronomical Society (AfAS) and the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) have signed a five-year partnership Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that sees the two collaborating towards bringing together complementary resources, networks and expertise to advance development through astronomy throughout the African Continent.

“We are pleased to formalise an existing strong relationship with AfAS,” said OAD Director, Kevin Govender, who added that: “Over the past decade the African continent has demonstrated beyond doubt its significant position in the global astronomy landscape. The rapid growth of this field of research combined with the energy and enthusiasm of the continent’s youth, as well as significant astronomy infrastructure projects on the continent, all make it timely that this agreement is signed between AfAS and the OAD.”

The agreement envisages areas of collaboration that include: 

  • The implementation of special calls for proposals such as the 2020 COVID-19 call for projects that use astronomy to mitigate negative effects of the pandemic. 
  • Coordination of communication networks in Africa.
  • Coordination of fundraising related to the African continent.
  • The organisation, implementation and legacy aspects related to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly in 2024, which will be the first ever held on the African continent.
  • Other general areas of mutual interest in support of developing astronomy 
    across the continent.

“It was just natural that both organisations join hands and work in synergy for the benefit of all the stakeholders so as to ripe societal and economic benefits by them bringing together their respective resources, networks, and expertise,” said AfAS President, Professor Jamal Mimouni, who jointly signed the agreement with Govender.

AfAS will provide the necessary human resources and communications channels to develop, implement and promote joint initiatives with the OAD. As appropriate, AfAS will invite representation from the OAD on its various committees and sub-committees.

AfAS will also actively collaborate with the OAD and the National Organising Committee of the General Assembly 2024; to promote it and encourage active participation by African astronomers and students.

The OAD will provide the necessary

human resources and communications, logistics and publicity channels to develop, implement and promote joint initiatives with AfAS. The OAD will also endeavour to synergize its fundraising activities, through the IAU Fundraiser, and include, as appropriate, AfAS representation in its fundraising initiatives.

AfAS and the OAD are both funded and supported by the South African Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), and have always enjoyed a close working relationship. This MOA formalises the partnership between the two, aimed primarily at strengthening development through Astronomy in Africa.