Initiated by Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, and led by N’Goné Fall, its Commissioner General, the Africa2020 Season, postponed to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is a pan-African and multidisciplinary project, focusing on innovation in the arts, sciences, technologies, entrepreneurship and the economy. Conceived as an invitation to look at and understand the world from an African perspective, it aims to be a sounding board for the agents of change that impact contemporary societies around the major challenges of the 21st century.

The Montpellier Advanced Knowledge Institute on Transitions (MAK’IT) has been invited to participate in the Africa2020 Season and is organising, in collaboration with the UNESCO International Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Water Systems Dynamics and the UNESCO Chair in World Food Systems, a series of virtual events on 23 and 24 March 2021, under the common theme of “Feed – Protect – Care: Africa at the heart of global transitions”. These events will feature leading African personalities – scientists, artists, chefs, entrepreneurs, representatives of international organisations – and will give us a chance to hear what young people have to say. They will also highlight the long tradition of hospitality, exchanges and cooperation that Montpellier and its scientific communities have established with the African continent.


Tuesday 23 March 2021

Event organised with the UNESCO International Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Water Systems Dynamics

Young researchers from the African continent, working with the water community in Montpellier, will answer questions asked in the form of short videos by young Africans in the field, who are direct witnesses of the challenges linked to water on the continent around the 3 pilars “feed – protect – care”. The young researchers will use this opportunity to present their individual experiences as well as collective projects led in collaboration with Montpellier, which will be debated during a final science-society sequence, in which the event participants will have the opportunity to intervene directly.


Moderation: Amar Imache, co-founder of Lisode
Introduction by Marcel Kuper & Caroline Lejars, Direction of JRU G-EAU

Session 1: Water to feed Africa

– Video “Supplementary irrigation: living and producing in the lowlands of Burkina Faso” – Comments by Rahim Ouedraogo, PhD student at the Montpellier Graduate School of Economics and Management
– Video “Against the grain: agroecological practices in Kairouan, Tunisia” with the contribution of Fatah Ameur, researcher, Research Center in Applied Economics for Development (CREAD) in Algiers, Algeria – Comments by Koladé Akakpo, PhD student in earth and water sciences at Montpellier SupAgro

Sequence 2: Water to protect Africa

– Video “Sustainable oases” – Comments by Intissar Ferchichi, researcher at the National Research Institute of Rural Engineering and Forestry in Tunis, Tunisia
– Video “Feet in the water in Abidjan: a fatality?” with the contribution of Aristide Douagui, lecturer at the University of Nangui Abrogoua (UNA) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire and Kouamé Auguste Kouassi, UNA  Jérôme Williams Loebe, entrepreneur

Sequence 3: Water to care Africa

– Video “Gold mining and health risks in West Africa” – Reaction of Oumar-El- Farouk Maman-Illatou, PhD student at Abdou Moumouni University in Niamey, Niger and at IMT Mines in Alès

Roundtable: Meeting the water challenges in Africa

With the participation of Akiça Bahri, former Minister of Agriculture of Tunisia and Eric Servat, representative of the UNESCO Water Centre in Montpellier


Lecture by Achille Mbembe moderated by Estienne Rodary


Event organised with the UNESCO Chair on World Food Systems

During this virtual roundtable, participants will share a personal story about an object (food, dish, food container, painting, fabric, etc.), emblematic for them of the African relationship to food and illustrating the 3 challenges ‘feed – protect – care’. World-renowned artists and chefs as well as researchers from the African continent will then exchange their vision and points of view during a lively science-society debate with all the participants.


–  Emeka Ogboh, Artist

–  Anto Cocagne, Chef in Paris

–  Pierre Thiam, Chef in New York

–  Hayat Zirari, Anthropologist, Hassan II University of Casablanca, Morocco

–  Estelle Kouokam, Anthropologist, Catholic University of Yaounde, Cameroun


Wednesday 24 March 2021

What are the stakes and modalities of a research-based development focused on strengthening African scientific communities?

The emergence of global issues that concern both the ‘Global South’ and the ‘Global North’ invites us to go beyond the idea of development as simply catching-up technically to improve economic growth. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development bear witness to this. In this context, science’s role and expectations are changing significantly. More than ever, the scientific communities are being called upon to do more than just contribute to immediate technical solutions; they are invited, and sometimes invite themselves, to act in conjunction with development actors to shed light on the complex processes underway, to formulate and address the issues that will arise in the future, to experiment with new policy paths as well as to identify possible blockages. The ambition of a research-based development relies on the conviction that the transfer of knowledge from the best laboratories in the world is insufficient and that the society itself must participate in knowledge production in order to imagine and build its future. Such a position calls for the strengthening of the capacities of scientific institutions in all countries, so that they are fully involved in international initiatives and able to better contribute to the challenges that their countries are facing.

Montpellier’s scientific communities, grouped together in the ‘Montpellier University of Excellence’ initiative around the three challenges ‘Feed – Protect – Care’, place special emphasis on the partnership with Africa, based on a long tradition of hospitality, exchanges and cooperation. This virtual roundtable will highlight some of these partnerships and focus on the challenges of strengthening African scientific communities for the joint construction of tomorrow’s intelligence and world. Several Q&A sessions with the webinar participants will be organised.

Michèle Mbo’o-Tchouawou, Deputy Director, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD)
Alpha Kabinet Keita, Deputy Director of the Centre for Research and Training in Infectious Diseases (CERFIG), Guinea
Prisca Mugabe, MAK’IT Visiting Scientist and Deputy Dean of the University of Zimbabwe
Philippe Petithuguenin, CIRAD Deputy Director General for Research and Strategy
Mahama Tawat, MAK’IT Visiting Fellow in Comparative Politics, attached to the Institute for Research, Socio-Economic Development and Communication (IRESCO) of Cameroun


How can we meet the challenges of ‘Feed, Protect, Care’ in Africa in the context of intense health, demographic and climatic transitions?

Given the intensity of the transformations that have taken place and will continue to take place in Africa in the coming years and decades, it is clear that it is on this continent that the future of the world will be written. While the demographic transition is a completed process elsewhere, it is taking shape in Africa in unprecedented ways. The increase will be twice as intense as elsewhere. It will have taken 250 years for the world’s population to multiply by 10, 150 years in Africa. This transition will also occur in an unprecedented context, marked by strong urbanisation, the evolution of the agricultural sector and the difficulties of absorbing rural employment by the economic sector as well as the increasingly visible impacts of climate change. Accentuated by the current pandemic, the successive crises are accelerating vulnerabilities and increasing, as much as they reveal, the strong uncertainties to come. This very particular configuration leads Africa to invent new ways forward, which will have necessarily to be multiple as the diversity of situations is so great in this immense continent.

This virtual round table will discuss the particular links between the agri-food, environmental and health challenges in Africa. The speakers will share ideas to better understand, support and accelerate the transitions to be implemented on the African continent in order to guarantee access to quality food, to preserve ecosystems and to improve the overall health of its populations. There will be several Q&A sessions with webinar participants.


Fred Eboko, Socio-politologist, IRD representative in Côte d’Ivoire
Lindiwe Sibanda, Director of the Centre of Excellence in Food Security of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA)
Jean-Michel Sourisseau, Socio-Economist, Deputy Director of JRU ART-Dev, CIRAD
Camilla Toulmin, Senior Research Associate at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and Chair of MAK’IT Scientific Council
Sarah Toumi, Founder and Executive Director, Acacias for All and Dream in Tunisia