The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) Governing Council has appointed Prof Nelson Torto, a prolific analytical chemist, as the executive director. Prof Torto, who was appointed after a continental search process, replaces Prof Berhanu Abegaz whose two-term contract ended last March. Dr Tom Kariuki, director of the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) has been the interim executive director.

“As AAS Fellow, Prof Torto has been involved in various activities of the Academy, demonstrating strong commitment to the organisation and has served in fundraising and various programmes at executive and leadership levels that will be useful to propel the Academy to greater heights,” says AAS President Prof Felix Dapare Dakora. “

“The Academy is playing a significant role in promoting the development of science, technology and innovation on the continent. I am dedicated to pushing this agenda forward to ensure science adequately plays its role to improve the lives of African people,” Prof Torto said.

Prof Torto was the founding Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation. He holds PhD in analytical chemistry from Lund University, Sweden. He started his career as a method development chemist at the BCL Mine in Selebi Phikwe and joined the University of Botswana’s Chemistry Department as a staff development fellow in 1993 where he rose to the rank of Associate Professor

In 2008, Prof Torto joined Rhodes University as a Professor in analytical chemistry and subsequently led the Chemistry Department for three years. He has received various awards, given invited plenary lectures at international conferences and published over 130 papers, graduated 19 PhDs and has several registered patents.

The AAS, headquartered in Kenya, aims to drive sustainable development in Africa through Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). The mandate includes pursuing 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 that impact on developmental challenges through the new agenda setting and funding platform, the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA). AESA was created by AAS, NEPAD Agency and partners.