University of Pretoria joins consortium to fund digital science magazine, Nature Africa

Posted on May 13, 2021

The University of Pretoria (UP) is part of a consortium of South African universities that has contributed towards the funding of a digital science magazine, Nature Africa, which was launched recently.

The consortium partners include the universities of Cape Town, Johannesburg, Witwatersrand, KwaZulu-Natal and Stellenbosch University. The online magazine, launched by Springer Nature, will report on scientific research and issues of science policy across the African continent, covering the highest impact research taking place and communicating this to scientists and decision-makers in and outside Africa.

UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe said, “As part of this consortium we want to share the research done by African academics who are working towards solutions for the continent’s grand challenges as well as global problems. We want to show the world that African scientists can compete with scientists in the north and produce impactful research that changes people’s lives for the better. A recent example is that of UP’s Professor Lyn-Marie Birkholtz, whose team discovered new potent chemical compounds that show potential as candidates for both the treatment and elimination of malaria.”

Prof Kupe pointed out that the free access to content in Nature Africa will help boost the public understanding of science, as well as contribute to the democratisation of the subject.  “Decisions by the public on diet or vaccination will be enhanced if they had some understanding of the underlying science,” he said.

Prof Kupe added: “The products of science are ubiquitous and permeate peoples’ lives. Journal articles containing research findings cannot be accessed by the public, while universities must pay for access in most cases. Few universities have well-functioning media offices that can distil scientific findings into accessible information for the public, through the use of the media.”

 He said, “We are proud to be part of this consortium, contributing to science communications and allowing a platform for debate. It is difficult for Africans to get their research on local problems published in international scientific journals, while there are also language barriers. Nature Africa is an avenue to discuss their peer-reviewed research, ” he said.

Alongside news stories and research highlights, Nature Africa will also publish feature a diverse range of articles, opinion pieces and commentaries written by journalists and researchers.

Led by Chief Editor, Akinlabi Kazeem Jimoh, and published in English and French, Nature Africa will draw attention to African research that drives growth and development across the continent. As a vibrant destination for researchers of all career levels across disciplines, it will promote research discourse and enable the discussion of scientific achievements by providing a place where ideas can be celebrated, challenged, critiqued and built on.

Jimoh said, “Our goal for Nature Africa is to shine a light on science in Africa and the scientists contributing to solving local and global problems, whilst promoting scientific exchange across the continent. We hope to tell and be part of the African growth story which often does not receive the attention it deserves.”

Nature Africa Editor-in-Chief Magdalena Skipper said: “I am delighted that through the launch of this publication we can help highlight, and put into context, the most important research from and relevant for the African continent. We hope that this new platform will be a valuable resource for researchers in Africa and abroad, and we welcome your feedback and suggestions for its improvement.”

UP’s Professor Eshchar Mizrachi of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), who is co-leader of this initiative along with Professor Bernard Slippers, Director of FABI, thanked Joffrey Planchard, Strategic Partnerships Manager – UK, Europe and Africa of Nature Research and Mohammed Yahia whom he said “has played an important role in this engagement and with his expertise from the beginning, and continues to support the venture as an Executive Editor”. 

Content in Nature Africa is free to access at, while Nature Portfolio has sole responsibility for all editorial content.

 A virtual event to celebrate the launch of Nature Africa took place recently. The focus was the potential of young African scientists: How can Africa empower young researchers to lead a new science renaissance in the continent? A recording of the event will be made available on Nature Africa.

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