The Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), is proudly one of the only two (2) partners in Africa, in the Europlanet Project 2024, a large research project funded by the European Union (EU) through the Horizon 2020 programme led by the University of Kent in the United Kingdom.
Fulvi Franchio, Professor at the Earth and Environmental Science Department of BIUST, who is also local coordinator for Europlant, the project has 50 partners, of which BIUST is one of the only two in Africa. Professor Franchio says their role in this project is to organize fieldwork activities for scientists from all over the world interested in visiting Makgadikgadi pans for research purposes.
He also says that the Europlanet Consortium is committed to building a diverse, inclusive planetary science community in Europe and to ensuring that individuals within that community experience equal opportunity, regardless of gender, disability, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, family status, age, nationality or socioeconomic background.
He says it started years ago focusing only on the European community, but has now opened its doors for the international community especially Africa. “Scientists from all over the world can apply to this project to come and do science with us. There are different laboratories, and we are always hunting for places where we can find natural processes in other planets,” he reveals.
Here in Botswana Professor Franchio say, we have a very large salt pan, where there are some organisms which are believed to have possibilities of sustaining lives.
He says there are scientists coming from Spain to conduct research at the Makgadikgadi Pans. The partnership with Europlanet means that students at BIUST can pursue careers in planetary science in partnership with leading scientists across the world. The project started in 2020 and is expected to complete in 2024.