20 www.ceramics.org | American Ceramic Society Bulletin, Vol. 100, No. 8 Celebrating 100 years Africa—A wealth of resources and aspirations By Alex Talavera and Randy B. Hecht A frica is home to 1.38 billion people, more than one-seventh of the world’s population. From a foreign trade perspective, it is an enormous market—one whose potential large global economies are beginning to fully appreciate. For example, in the United States, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged the Biden Administration to “make Africa engagement a presidential priority…[and] enhance the com- petitiveness of U.S. business in Africa.” The organization endorses free trade agreement negotiations with Kenya and “capacity building to support a trade agenda in the African Continental Free Trade Area.”1 Africa sees its future in technological advance—and actively seeks global partners to help achieve its research and economic develop- ment potential. c o v e r s t o r y bulletin The South African National Space Agency (SANSA), established in 2010, coordinates South Africa’s involvement with space research and activities through four program areas: Earth Observation, Space Engineering, Space Operations, and Space Science. Pictured is one of the full-motion telemetry, tracking, and command antennas that SANSA Space Operations manages and maintains at the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory. Africa has long been mined for its raw materials.2 The African continent, for example, is the preeminent source of critical mate- rials such as nickel, cobalt, and rare-earth mineral ores and gold. Other valuable ores found in Africa include bauxite, iron ore, and uranium ore. But as international research and development collaborations demonstrate, Africa can be more than a node on the supply chain or a target for increased export activity. R&D, with emphasis on development France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) is collaborating with researchers in South Africa on INFINITE- CELL,3 a project focused on developing next-generation solar cells. According to its website, the project “proposes extending the very high efficiency tandem device concepts to emerging thin film PV technologies with high potential for reduction of costs and avoiding the use of critical raw materials.” The goal is to bring to market “cost-efficient photovoltaic tandem devices based in the combination of wide band-gap kesterite absorbers as top cell, and low-cost c-Si [crystalline silicon] thin film as bottom cell”—and its performance targets include “using only fully sustainable materials and processes.” Throughout Africa, researchers are working on strategies for converting agricultural waste from an ecological problem Credit: SANSA Credit: SANSA
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