The African continent has mining potential as great as anywhere in the world, but it is still under-explored. Strengthening the scientific capacity of African geological surveys is a priority for the countries concerned, with a view to improving the governance of the mining sector and ensuring a more balanced deployment of the wealth associated with the exploitation of mineral resources. This is the purpose of PanAfGeo, the largest geoscience training programme ever undertaken on the continent.
Launched in December 2016, and co-financed by the European Union and 12 European geological surveys to the tune of €10.3 million, PanAfGeo aims to train scientific staff in African geological surveys and to forge bonds with European geological surveys. This cooperation project has developed seven training modules: geological mapping, mineral resource inventory for assessing mining potential, small-scale mining, environmental management, natural risks, the geological heritage, and geoscience data management and communication.
BRGM, the leading European geological survey, coordinated the programme. A total of 1074 people were trained, drawn from almost every country in Africa. BRGM has been directly involved in the training of African managers in geological mapping, mineral resources, geological heritage, small-scale mining and geoscience data management.
On 24 and 25 October, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, PanAfGeo brought together the participants for its closing meeting, as well as representatives of the European and African Union and various international bodies. There was a complete review of the three years of training. This feedback fed into discussions for a second phase of the programme, which is now being considered.
International training at BRGM
BRGM has long experience in international training courses. For several decades, the Orléans-based institution has been sharing its expertise with geologists from different countries during its missions abroad. This trend has increased over the past decade. BRGM now very often includes a training component in its international projects. Demand is high. Although geosciences are increasingly in demand to meet environmental challenges, such as access to drinking water or securing the supply of raw materials, many countries are facing a real shortage of qualified personnel, particularly in Africa. While BRGM is already very involved in Africa with geological mapping, mineral prospecting and environmental management of mining activities, it has also trained agents in natural hazards in the Caribbean, as well as in hydrogeology in the Near and Middle East. Training also involves research projects on all continents, with scientific partnerships and thesis supervision.