World news story

Analytical scientists pass on their expertise in Ghana

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology is hosting a week-long training workshop for chemists in Africa.

Royal Society of Chemistry
Scientists during the training workshop in Ghana.

Kumasi, Ghana

Today sees the start of a week-long training workshop for analytical chemists in Africa, supported by GlaxoSmithKline and the Royal Society of Chemistry. The workshop is taking place at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) from 6–10 June 2016.

The training scheme was begun in 2004, in Kenya, by Professor Anthony Gachanja and Dr Steve Lancaster – from Kenya and the UK respectively. The programme teaches practical skills in Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS), a widely-used analytical technique, which is crucial in everything from environmental monitoring to drug development. Now, with the help of a new five-year partnership between GSK and the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Pan Africa Chemistry Network (PACN), the programme is being rolled out to Ghana, Nigeria and Ethiopia and will train more than 400 scientists, with participants attending from countries across the continent.

The programme aims to train local chemists to train others – leaving a self-sustaining programme and lasting legacy in African science.

Hannah Spry, from the Royal Society of Chemistry, has managed the partnership with GSK and attended previous workshops in Kenya, and is now involved in rolling out the training across Africa: “I’m proud to be working with GSK on this programme. Their expertise in this critical area of analytical chemistry enables African scientists to get hands-on understanding of the industrial application of GC-MS, providing them with examples and case studies to bring this technique to life.

“The participants from the course I attended in Kenya were incredibly inspiring and engaging to work with and really demonstrated how impactful this training can be across Africa – enabling local scientists to respond to the many challenges that they face.”

Professor Kwasi Obiri Danso, Provost of the College of Science, and incoming Vice Chancellor of KNUST, says: “We wish to thank the PACN, the Royal Society of Chemistry and GSK for choosing our college as a venue for the training programme. We also thank these bodies for providing the Department of Chemistry with a solar inverter worth over GHC 42000, to be used as back-up for the electricity supply for the GC-MS and other equipment.

“We hope that this training programme will foster a continued collaboration between our university, the PACN, the Royal Society of Chemistry and GSK. We also hope that similar training programmes in the use of other equipment and analytical techniques will be developed in the future in order to build the capacity of our staff and students for effective research.”

As well as providing practical training and support, the programme provides valuable networking and collaboration opportunities. Judith Gregory, Principal Scientist in NPD Skin Health at GSK, who is also one of the trainers, says: “At the previous workshop it was great to see the participants building a network between them and realising that they all face similar challenges and experiences. I’ve kept in touch with some of them myself and we’ve been swapping ideas and answering questions. It’s now an international network of analytical chemists, and this is something we’re hoping to build on by involving more colleagues from GSK in the future.”

Dr Genevieve Adukpo, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana is travelling to KNUST to shadow the trainers. She and another colleague are being trained to become facilitators for GC-MS training workshops in Ghana in the near future. She will be passing on her knowledge to her students and colleagues, as well as other scientists from across Africa.

Dr Adukpo explains the importance of mastering this analytical technique for local scientists. “Recently there has been a lot in the news about the adulteration of processed food in the Ghanaian market,” she says. “So we have to keep checking the food for contaminants, and without these analytical instruments it is difficult. In Ghana we are having a lot of problems at the moment, and the programme is important in helping us to solve our own local problems and challenges.”

The PACN was established in 2007 by the Royal Society of Chemistry and African scientists to provide support for researchers across sub-Saharan Africa. As part of this, the network launched its own training programme in GC-MS. The programme has already trained more than 100 African scientists over five years, who have gone on to publish more than 20 articles in scientific journals.

For more information on the PACN programme click here

Notes for editors:


One of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, GSK is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For further information please visit here.

  • Investing in Africa

GSK is investing in Africa to increase access to medicines, build capacity and deliver sustainable growth. Africa has long borne the highest rates of infectious diseases and now faces growing incidences of NCDs too. This dual health burden poses a significant obstacle in economic and social development. We are investing at least £100m in Africa over the next five years. Working with partners, we aim to provide a portfolio of relevant products and innovative pricing strategies, support African R&D expertise and increase local manufacturing capacity and capability.

  • Supporting open innovation and collaboration

We are investing £25 million to create the world’s first Africa Open Lab for NCD research, where GSK scientists and external researchers will work together to improve understanding of NCD variations in African patients. Our goal is to deliver 25 high-impact research projects. The NCD Open Lab builds on the success of our original Open Lab in Spain, which focuses on malaria, tuberculosis (TB) and other tropical diseases.

  • Developing products where they are needed

Increasing capability and capacity to manufacture medicines in Africa will create jobs and boost long-term economic prospects. We will invest in expanding our manufacturing capabilities to help ensure the sustainable production of medicines in Africa. To further increase the region’s skills base, we are establishing academic partnerships to promote the study of pharmaceutical science, healthcare policy and provision. In time, this will enhance local research, manufacturing and healthcare capability, helping to secure future investment and build vibrant healthcare economies.

Royal Society of Chemistry

We are the oldest chemical society in the world and in 2016 we’re celebrating 175 years of progress and people in the chemical sciences. Throughout the year, we’re sharing the stories of how our members past and present have helped to change the world with chemistry. With over 50,000 members and a knowledge business that spans the globe, we are the UK’s professional body for chemical scientists; a not-for-profit organisation with 175 years of history and an international vision of the future. We promote, support and celebrate chemistry. We work to shape the future of the chemical sciences – for the benefit of science and humanity.

PACN Network

The Pan Africa Chemistry Network connects the global chemical science community to build capacity and enable excellence in the chemical sciences across Africa. Launched in London on 21 November 2007 and in Nairobi on 27 May 2008, the Pan Africa Chemistry Network aims to create a self-sustaining science base in Africa, to solve local challenges and contribute to global knowledge in the chemical sciences.

GSK and the Royal Society of Chemistry (PACN partnership)

As part of GSK’s commitment to investing in African academia, the company has entered into a partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry’s (RSC) Pan Africa Chemistry Network (PACN). GSK’s support will allow the Royal Society of Chemistry to significantly expand the training course, as technical training has been one of the most popular activities. These trainings are delivered by a dedicated group of highly-experienced volunteers, and GSK’s involvement will make the delivery model more sustainable through the implementation of a train-the-trainer model, developing the African scientists into the trainers themselves.

Media Contacts:

Lizzy Ratcliffe

News and Media Executive Royal Society of Chemistry +44 (0)1223432486

Susan Gitau

Communications Executive GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical Kenya Limited +254 206933341

Published 6 June 2016