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ARUA Centre of Excellence in Materials, Energy and Nanotechnology

The ARUA Centre of Excellence in Materials, Energy and Nanotechnology (CoEMEN) is hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand, and also includes the Universities of Pretoria, Nairobi and Ghana, with links to other universities including: University of Dar es Salaam, Makerere University, Nelson Mandela University and University of Johannesburg.

ARUA CoE-MEN is becoming a hub for materials science and engineering in Africa, as well as an ideal environment in which to build research capacity and human capacity for Africa, and is working with the African Materials Research Society on this. ARUA CoE is positioning itself to be a centre for training African students and academics and to undertake relevant and innovative research, which will help to solve some of Africa’s problems.

The research is on the development of materials and new technologies to benefit Africa. There is a range of research themes, to identify and develop new opportunities in an African context:

  1. Research on energy materials
  2. Biomass and waste to energy
  3. Recycling of waste including CO2
  4. Environmental pollution remediation materials
  5. Construction and structural materials for a sustainable future
  6. Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of materials
  7. How society is affected by materials.

These themes were inspired by the African response to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ARUA CoE-MEN will be contributing to Goal 3, Good Health and Well-being with projects that are aimed at improving medical implants, as well as to Goal 4, Quality Education, because one major focus of the CoE is to improve education, and to prepare better-equipped graduates. The Centre will also help with Goal 5, Gender Equality and Goal 10, Reduced Inequalities by helping to close gender and income gaps through education, and being open to everyone interested in seeking a successful career in materials science. It will eventually act as a hub for small to medium size enterprises, which are so crucial in stabilising the economy in many African countries. In the long run, the project should then make major contributions to Goal 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth; Goal 7, Affordable and clean energy; Goal 9, Industry Innovation and Infrastructure, as well as and Goal 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities. Ultimately, ARUA CoE-MEN will seek to develop technologies in a local African context, and aim at robust, sustainable and affordable technologies to promote Goal 12, Responsible Consumption and Production.

Of course, expertise in several different disciplines are needed to run the various projects, and this is where Goal 17, Partnerships for the Goals comes into play. Once different products have been developed (e.g. alloys, processing routes…), then more partnerships (many already identified) will be needed for the production and testing, and this could help to build partnerships with small businesses and industrial partners.