An Interview with Professor Samuel Domngang
Professor Samuel Domngang, president of the Cameroon Academy of Sciences, offered his insights on the second annual ASADI conference.
Why did CAS want to host this year's conference?
To improve our capacity in the management of such a conference and also to increase our visibility in the country.
This is the second annual ASADI conference. Based on what was achieved after the first conference last year, and your vision for this year's gathering, what do you hope will result from this conference?
I hope that this conference will be better organized and that the working session will help each Academy to benefit from the experience of the other. The symposium will give a specific example of evidence-based science advice and show the importance of academies in upholding the quality of science and technology (S&T) activity in a country and will guide national policies based on S&T.
In what ways can ASADI members affect their policymakers and ordinary citizens? Also, what are some specific ways that the Cameroon Academy of Sciences is trying to make a difference in this country?
ASADI members can affect their policymakers by organizing forums and roundtables and writing reports about crucial problems for Africa, such as malaria, science and technology education, HIV, tuberculosis, nutrition, good governance, corruption, and education policy.
What resources and knowledge are needed to ensure that evidence-based scientific advice is guiding decisions of African policymakers? How much of these resources do African nations like Cameroon have, and how much more are needed?
We need human resources, scientific and social knowledge in many fields because evidence-based advice is a multidisciplinary exercise. We need highly qualified scientists and engineers at universities and research institutions. Cameroon has six state universities, two private universities, research institutes in agriculture for development, medical and medicinal plants research, geological and mineral, education. The government could focus resources on providing high-quality training in science and technology.
How do African policymakers currently regard science? How much or little does scientific advice guide their decisions? Why is that?
Many problems facing humanity have potential solutions derived from science, and African policymakers know that there is no economic development and reduction of poverty without science and technology. Mostly, scientific advice guides their decisions.
What is your vision for how policymakers and scientists should be interacting? Also, what steps is your academy taking to achieve that kind of interaction?
CAS publishes the "Journal of Cameroon Academy of Sciences," awards prizes for excellence in research, organizes workshop jointly with other Ministries. The academy is represented on the anticorruption committee of the Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation and the National Biosafety Committee.
Please share any specific examples you have of how the CAS has worked with policymakers and/or others to work on a problem or to accomplish something.
After the Lake Nyos disaster the Cameroon Government organized an international conference to know what to do to avoid similar disaster in future. The study of iodine deficiency is an another case.
What are some things CAS intends to do to keep working toward further progress?
CAS intends to reinforce its membership and its staff and to develop better strategy for funding. Many fellows are technical advisers in different ministries; they could help to improve our visibility.