Chemists from across Africa gained further expertise with advanced analytical techniques through a two-week course designed and conducted by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in Pretoria, South Africa, from 16 to 27 May. Improving the analytical skills of chemists from across Africa, through the OPCW’s Analytical Chemistry Courses, is an important activity area for the OPCW in the region.
The Analytical Chemistry Courses are designed to build and extend the capacity of laboratories in African countries to analyse chemicals relevant to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The courses are part of a larger OPCW programme that strives to strengthen the Organisation’s cooperation with its member states from Africa.
Course participants practised a variety of analytical techniques and acquired advanced knowledge regarding sample preparation, the identification of the specific properties of chemical warfare agents, as well as health, safety and environmental rules required for handling toxic chemicals. They also learned about the implementation of the CWC at the national and global level.
One participant noted, “Currently, there are no courses on chemical weapons in chemistry departments in Africa. This course should be considered for inclusion in the standard syllabus for chemistry students.” Another participant added, “I will certainly use the knowledge that I gained here to improve analytical standards and methods applied at the laboratory where I work.”
The OPCW Analytical Chemistry Courses have been held annually since 2009. This edition was co-organised and hosted by the Protechnik Laboratories of Armaments Corporation of South Africa. It was attended by 24 participants from 15 countries: Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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