AfOx Insaka with Professor Sir Charles Godfray & Dr Habibat Chahul

Driving Ambition: Can and Should We Use Gene Drive to Knock Out the Major Mosquito Vectors of Malaria?

There is currently great interest in the possibility of using gene-drive to suppress mosquito vectors of malaria. The idea is to release a small number of mosquitoes carrying a genetic construct which both spreads in the population and causes population decline. The emergence of CRISPR technology has accelerated the development of suitable constructs. Prof Sir Charles Godfray has been involved for 15 years in a gene-drive project led by Austin Burt at Imperial College targeting Anopheles gambiae, the most important malaria vector in Africa. In this talk he will explain how gene-drive works, and the current position of the research frontier. Prof Godfray will describe his research, which tries to predict how gene-drive will work in real African landscapes, and on-going community ecology studies that seek to explore the consequences of removing a mosquito species from an ecosystem. He will finish by exploring the regulatory and ethical issues around an exciting but novel and challenging technology.

Africa’s Transition To Renewables: The Role Of Sustainable Materials For Electrochemical Energy Storage Devices

Sub-Saharan Africa currently has 570 million people, which is 48% of the population, without access to electricity. This accounts for three-quarters of the world’s unelectrified population. West Africa has one of the world’s lowest rates of access to energy. For instance, Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, generates only about 4,000 megawatts of electricity, which is significantly insufficient considering its population of over 210 million and the country’s energy demand, estimated at 30,000 megawatts. The lack of access to electricity has implications for Africa’s health, education, poverty alleviation, and long-term development. To achieve clean and inexpensive energy (SDG 7), Africa needs to transition from fossil fuels to renewables, which is currently slow. Electrochemical energy storage technologies are increasingly essential for progress towards this goal. Rechargeable batteries play an important role in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and stabilizing huge energy grids. Although these batteries cannot generate electricity alone, they can work with other power plants to shift output from off-peak to peak hours. Exploring safe and sustainable materials for electrochemical energy storage devices is important for protecting the environment and making green energy systems that are durable and cost-effective available to Africans.