New and founding director of Future Africa: Prof Cheikh Mbow and Prof Bernard Slippers

Future Africa is excited to welcome its new Director, Prof Cheikh Mbow, who joins the team from START-International in Washington DC. 

Prof Mbow served for a decade as an Associate Professor on remote sensing-GIS and climate change at the Institute of Environmental Sciences, Science Faculty; and Laboratoire d’Enseignement et de Recherche en Géomatique, Polytechnic Faculty of the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar, where he was leading the research team known as Climate Change, Adaptation and Environmental Risks. He occupied various science leadership roles at the World Agroforestry center in Kenya and the START-International Secretariat in USA. With more than 120 publications on various environmental sustainability fields, Prof Mbow has proven transdisciplinary skills and expertise on land use, disturbances of natural vegetative systems and sustainability of agricultural systems.

Prof Mbow believes that Africa’s research output to the global public has been to the least very insignificant. He claims that the continent is undergoing many positive trends in terms of high education, acceleration of the use of modern technologies, new visions for capacity building and connecting research to policy and business.

“These trends will not be consolidated and sustained if there is no space for collaboration where linking people to knowledge becomes the main drive for development as it opens up opportunities for the youth and vulnerable groups. Addressing challenges in a context of poverty, rapid demographic growth, social challenges and severe human security cannot be carried with the negative image of Africa. While most of these challenges are true, Africa hosts a great deal of opportunities that can only be unlocked through developing local solutions using the best scientific outputs.” says Prof Mbow. 

Prof Mbow envisages that Future Africa will serve as a seedbed for sustainable transformation of the continent and will be a new model for tertiary education’s approach to address the challenges of the 21st century. “The culture I would like to create at Future Africa and beyond is one of reconnection. A culture of trust and reliance to African scientists to create a bottom-up momentum for development is essential for our vision to be realised.” says Prof Mbow. 

Prof Mbow feels that he has always been working in line with the Future Africa ethos. “When what you do corresponds to your intimate aspiration, that becomes a real sources of fulfillment. I intended to firmly seat into my role at Future Africa in October 2019, but I already see myself as part of the endeavor and as such I am looking forward to collaborate with the community.” says Prof Mbow. 

Prof Mbow takes over from founding director Prof Bernard Slippers. Prof Slippers is the director of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute and has directed the development of Future Africa since 2014. “It has been a wonderful privilege to work with so many people who are passionate about science, passionate about a better world and passionate about Africa, and who see Future Africa as the most tangible response the University of Pretoria can make to contribute to the future of capacity and sustainable development on the continent. I am delighted with the appointment of someone of the caliber of Prof Mbow as the new director and am very excited to work with him and the rest of the Future Africa team to maximise our impact towards these goals.” says Prof Slippers.  

The Future Africa team welcomes the new director to the Future Africa family with enthusiasm. The team commits to collectively bring Prof Mbow’s vision to life as an incredible step forward for the University of Pretoria and Africa as a game-changing continent.