Prof Nelson Torto, PhD, Executive Director, African Academy of Sciences


Nelson Torto is the Executive Director of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), a pan African organisation headquartered in Kenya, which aims to drive sustainable development in Africa through science technology and innovation.

AAS’s mandate is to pursue excellence by recognising scholars and achievers; providing advisory and think tank functions for shaping the continent’s strategies and policies; and implementing key science, technology and innovation programmes.

The AAS recognises excellence through the election of Affiliates  as well as Fellows, who are distinguished researchers representing the most talented and promising men and women from across the globe. The Academy works closely with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency), and partnered to create the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA), a funding platform.

Prof Torto oversees the mandate of AAS which includes, promoting partnerships, mobilising the scientific African community, leading science advocacy efforts and the use of research in policymaking processes to ensure that science remains at the forefront of the agenda in Africa and is adequately supported to transform the lives of its people.

Prior to joining the AAS, Prof Torto was the founding Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI), a national research institution. At BITRI he promoted co-creation and ensured that empathy was the value that drove the organisation’s initiatives. His other appointments include Full Professor in Analytical Chemistry and Head of the Chemistry Department at Rhodes University; and Associate Professor at the University of Botswana where he undertook several responsibilities covering Coordinator of Analytical Chemistry, Founding Director of the Centre for Scientific Research Indigenous Knowledge and Innovation (CesriKi), which is credited with the establishment of the indigenous knowledge policy for Botswana.

He has had an illustrious research career, which has seen him publish over 130 papers, graduate 19 PhDs and several MSc students, being cited more than 2000 times since 2012, have an H-index of 25 and successfully apply for patents for his research in material chemistry where his group employed elctrospun fibres for various applications.

Prof Torto is a recipient of several international awards, including the American Chemical Society’s Young Investigators in Separation Science Award, the Award for Collaboration in Analytical Chemistry from the Nigerian Chemical Society, Osuni Chapter and is an internationally recognised speaker. He has also served in various capacities in pan African and international networks and organisations including being the Founding Secretary General for the African Network of Analytical Chemists (SEANAC); the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry’s Division V; and South African institutions, such as iThemba Labs, the Materials Division Advisory for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Nanotechnology Forum for the Department of Science and Technology, the Analytical Division of the South African Chemical Institute (SACI). He was Analytical Editor of the South African Journal of Chemistry and a SASOL Professor of Analytical Chemistry.

Prof Torto is currently a panel member of the Research Council UK, an editorial board member for the international journal Chromatographia and has given master class sessions in evidence driven policy for the European Union. He is a qualified and accredited Time to Think Coach as well as Time to Think Facilitator and is currently enrolled for the Certified Ontological Coaching Programme.

He is a Fellow of the following science academies: the Botswana Academy of Sciences, the African Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of Chemistry. He has a PhD in analytical chemistry from Lund University in Sweden, an MSc from the University of Botswana and a BSc (Hons) Chemistry from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology in the United Kingdom.





KGAREBE, Boitumelo (Dr. Ms)

An international expert in scientific program and project management, with vast experience in networking of higher education institutions and institutional relationship management focusing mainly on capacity building.

Dr. Kgarebe is an analytical chemist by training and holds M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of London, as well as an M.B.A. from the University of Botswana. She has more than 21 years of university teaching and research experience at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

She has also been the head of a national scientific research centre responsible for food research, innovation, commercialization, and technology transfer. She has also worked at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, where she handled a wide portfolio of technical cooperation program that focus on the use of chemistry and science for economic and technological development, with a particular emphasis on developing countries and countries whose economies are in transition.

In this post, she was responsible for the identification, design, implementation and evaluation of capacity-building programs and activities in conjunction with national and regional institutions and other international organisations. She has had great success in fostering institutional partnerships internationally. In this area, she has established and promoted joint ventures with recipient countries such as: Armenia, Argentina, Cameroon, Ecuador, India, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Nigeria, Qatar, Morocco, South Africa, Tunisia and Uruguay; and donor countries such as China, Korea, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Currently she is heading the analytical services division, a unit at the National Institute for Occupational Health in Johannesburg, providing specialised laboratory services, research, advisory services and training to support the practice of occupational and environmental health. She has held directorships in academia, industry, and in international scientific organizations which has provided her with a rounded appreciation of harnessing human capacity for development.

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