The Africa Oxford Initiative (AfOx) Insaka is a gathering for sharing ideas and knowledge about Africa-focused research. AfOx invites speakers from varied disciplines and academic backgrounds to present their work and ideas, followed by discussions and networking. You can watch our previous Insaka’s here.
AfOx is hosting an Insaka on October 27th, 2023, from 5:30-7:00 PM UK time at the Hub Kellogg College. The event will also be live-streamed on the AfOx YouTube Channel.
There is currently great interest in the possibility of using gene-drive to suppress mosquito vectors of malaria. The idea is to release a small number of mosquitoes carrying a genetic construct which both spreads in the population and causes population decline. The emergence of CRISPR technology has accelerated the development of suitable constructs. I have been involved for 15 years in a gene-drive project led by Austin Burt at Imperial College targeting Anopheles gambiae, the most important malaria vector in Africa. In this talk I’ll explain how gene-drive works, and the current position of the research frontier. I will describe our research which tries to predict how gene-drive will work in real African landscapes, and on-going community ecology studies that seek to explore the consequences of removing a mosquito species from an ecosystem. I’ll finish by exploring the regulatory and ethical issues around an exciting but novel and challenging technology.
Sub-Saharan Africa currently has 570 million people, which is 48% of the population, without access to electricity. This accounts for three-quarters of the world's unelectrified population. West Africa has one of the world's lowest rates of access to energy. For instance, Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, generates only about 4,000 megawatts of electricity, which is significantly insufficient considering its population of over 210 million and the country's energy demand, estimated at 30,000 megawatts. The lack of access to electricity has implications for Africa's health, education, poverty alleviation, and long-term development. To achieve clean and inexpensive energy (SDG 7), Africa needs to transition from fossil fuels to renewables, which is currently slow. Electrochemical energy storage technologies are increasingly essential for progress towards this goal. Rechargeable batteries play an important role in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and stabilizing huge energy grids. Although these batteries cannot generate electricity alone, they can work with other power plants to shift output from off-peak to peak hours. Exploring safe and sustainable materials for electrochemical energy storage devices is important for protecting the environment and making green energy systems that are durable and cost-effective available to Africans.