Towards an African Light Source

  • Simon H. ConnellEmail author
  • Sekazi K. Mtingwa
  • Tabbetha Dobbins
  • Nkem Khumbah
  • Brian Masara
  • Edward P. Mitchell
  • Lawrence Norris
  • Prosper Ngabonziza
  • Tshepo Ntsoane
  • Herman Winick


An advanced light source (AdLS) presents itself as the most important scientific investment that Africa could construct at this point in its history. There is an urgent imperative to develop all the world’s socioeconomic prowess more equitably across its diversity. There needs to be a more universal and regionally balanced participation in the global economy. This would reflect in science becoming a truly global enterprise. This is rather fundamental, as innovation is the most important factor that drives economic development (Romer 1986). The crystal ball indicates that Africa will soon be home to the bulk of the world’s youth (United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division 2017). These young people will need to be engaged in the economy. Africa currently has a population of 1.2 billion, with 169 scientists per million people (UNESCO 2015a). This is a factor of 20 times less than the average of Europe. Africa therefore needs at least one...



The work is performed by professionals in a voluntary capacity.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Simon H. Connell declares that he/she has no conflict of interest. Sekazi K. Mtingwa declares that he/she has no conflict of interest. Tabbetha Dobbins declares that he/she has no conflict of interest. Nkem Khumbah declares that he/she has no conflict of interest. Brian Masara declares that he/she has no conflict of interest. Edward P. Mitchell declares that he/she has no conflict of interest. Lawrence Norris declares that he/she has no conflict of interest. Prosper Ngabonziza declares that he/she has no conflict of interest. Tshepo Ntsoane declares that he/she has no conflict of interest. Herman Winick declares that he/she has no conflict of interest.


  1. AfLS (2019) The website of the African Light Source project, Accessed 2/06/2019
  2. AKC-IA (2019) The Aaron Klug Centre for Imaging and Analysis website: Accessed 2/06/2019
  3. AUC (2019) The declaration and action plan of the 1st African Higher Education Summit on revitalizing higher education for Africa’s future. Available at Accessed 5/10/2018
  4. AU-EC (2019) Decisions : the African union executive council, 32nd ordinary session 23-24 January 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, EX.CL/Dec.986–1007(XXXII), Accessed 2/06/2019
  5. Blundell T (2017a) Targeting tuberculosis using structure-guided fragment-based drug design. Drug Discov Today 22/3:546–554Google Scholar
  6. Blundell T (2017b) Protein crystallography and drug discovery: recollections of knowledge exchange between academia and industry. IUCrJ 4/4:308–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Connell SH, Mtingwa SK, Dobbins T, Masara B, Mitchell EP, Norris L, Ngabonziza P, Ntsoane T, Sekota M, Wague A, Winick H, Yousef M (2018) The African Light Source Project. Afr Rev Phys 13:0019Google Scholar
  8. ESRF News (2013) South Africa joins the ESRF, ESRF News, Accessed 2/06/2019
  9. Goldsmith et al. (2019) GCRF–START Launch Event, Synchrotron Radiation News 32/3 (2019) 4Google Scholar
  10. HERCULES (2019) The HERCULES School website, Accessed 2/06/2019
  11. LAAAMP (2018) Advanced light sources and crystallography - tools of discovery and innovation, Published by LAAAMP, Light sources for Africa, Asia, the Americas and Middle East Project - an International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) and International Union of Crystallography (IUCr) project funded by the International Science Council (ISC), Editor: Ernest Malamud, Fermilab and University of Nevada, RenoGoogle Scholar
  12. LAAAMP (2019) Lightsources for Africa, the Americas, Asia and Middle East Project (LAAAMP) website, Accessed 2/06/2019
  13. LeCompte C (2015) Le développement de la cristallographie en Afrique - Une initiative de l’Union Internationale de la Cristallographie. Reflets Phys 44-45:17 Accessed 2/06/2019
  14. Mtingwa SK, Winick H (2018) Synchrotron light sources in developing countries. Mod Phys Lett A 33/9:1830003CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Open SESAME 2019 Open SESAME training Project: Accessed 2/06/2019
  16. Romer PM (1986) Increasing returns and long run growth. J Polit Econ 94:1002–1037 (for which he won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Scannell J et al (2012) Diagnosing the decline in pharmaceutical R&D efficiency. Nat Rev Drug Discov 11:191–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. SESAME (2019) The SESAME Synchrotron website: Accessed 2/06/2019
  19. START (2019) The START Programme website, Accessed 2/06/2019
  20. UNESCO(2015a) Science Report: towards 2030. Accessed 2/06/2019
  21. UNESCO(2015b) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Accessed 2/06/2019
  22. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017) World population prospects: the 2017 revisionGoogle Scholar
  23. Westbrook J, Burley S (2019) How structural biologists and the protein data bank contributed to recent FDA new drug approvals. Structure 27/2:211–217Google Scholar
  24. Wlodawer A, Vondrasek J (1998) Inhibitors of HIV-1 protease: a major success of structure-assisted drug design. Annu Rev Biophys Biomol Struct 27:249–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. X-TechLab (2019) X-TechLab Website: Accessed 2/06/2019
  26. Zema M, Desiraju G, Lecomte C, Nalecz M, Abiaga JJ-PN (2017) IUCr–UNESCO OpenLab: 25 editions in 22 countries and counting. Acta Crystallogr A Found Adv 73(a2):C363-C363. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics (IUPAB) and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon H. Connell
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sekazi K. Mtingwa
    • 2
  • Tabbetha Dobbins
    • 3
  • Nkem Khumbah
    • 4
  • Brian Masara
    • 5
  • Edward P. Mitchell
    • 6
  • Lawrence Norris
    • 7
  • Prosper Ngabonziza
    • 8
    • 9
  • Tshepo Ntsoane
    • 10
  • Herman Winick
    • 11
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical Engineering ScienceUniversity of JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.TriSEED ConsultantsLLCHillsboroughUSA
  3. 3.Rowan UniversityGlassboroUSA
  4. 4.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  5. 5.South African Institute of Physics, Executive OfficePretoriaSouth Africa
  6. 6.European Synchrotron Radiation FacilityGrenobleFrance
  7. 7.Department of Solid State Quantum ElectronicsAfrican Physical SocietyKigaliRwanda
  8. 8.Max Planck Institute for Solid State ResearchStuttgartGermany
  9. 9.Department of PhysicsUniversity of JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth Africa
  10. 10.The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation SOC Ltd (Necsa)PretoriaSouth Africa
  11. 11.SLAC National Accelerator LaboratoryStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

Personalised recommendations