African Optics and Photonics

Supporting advanced training in Africa is a priority for UNESCO, and the International Year of Light has a special aim to create as a legacy of 2015, a sustainable African Optics and Photonics Society. This page will allow you to follow this exciting project, and to explore the impact of such a society on the photonics industry in Africa. It will also touch on the initiatives occurring throughout Africa to implement sustainable research with sufficient human capacity development and governmental support.

Optical sciences and light-based technologies have remained at the forefront of advances in various fields of human endeavour and continue to play leading roles in the development of science and technology in Africa. IYL2015 presents an opportunity for greater awareness of the solutions that optical sciences and light-based technologies could present in order to foster greater collaboration among different fields and sectors for the sustainable development of Africa.

Aims and Goals:

  1. To create greater awareness of the potential of light-based technologies for solving many of the challenges facing the continent.
  2. To expand interaction between academics, industries and professionals in using optics and photonics concepts in tapping developmental strategies for communities, with the view to enable policy makers appreciate the relevance of science for economic advancement.
  3. To attract young innovators to the study and application of light-based technologies for the benefit of the continent.

Expected Outcomes:

It is expected that IYL2015 will lead to the:

  1. Expansion of educational opportunities in optical sciences and technology for capacity and industrial building.
  2. Establishment of sub-regional centres of excellence in light-based technologies for the promotion of optics and photonics.
  3. Expansion of research infrastructure to uphold new consciousness in optics and photonics for the emerging economies towards nation-building.
  4. Increase in the number of young innovators in optics and photonics, particularly, in the areas of medicine, communication, agriculture and energy applications relevant to the various national needs.
  5. Need for Africa to make a mark in optics to unravel the potentialities needed to solve our numerous challenges.


  • Beginning with more than 20 African countries, the African Laser, Atomic, Molecular, and  Optical Sciences (LAM) Network was created in 1991. Currently, the LAM Network is supported by the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) and the International Science Program (ISP). Physics of Laser Atoms and Molecules is becoming increasingly vital to development in countries that need access to higher education, health, agriculture production and communication. The LAM Network helps to build interconnectedness between universities and research facilities in Africa, and also to emphasize the development of cooperation between those structures.
  • The African Physical Society is a non-governmental association legally incorporated under the law of the Republic of Ghana, along with the African Association of Physics Students as a subsidiary organization. The organization was created to to bring global awareness of research and education in  physics, also to promote relations between physics students from all over the world.
  • The African Spectral Imaging Network was created to research, collaborate, and innovate on the topic of microscopic imaging systems. Through workshops, networks, and support from universities, the network is able to share expertise to open new areas for investigation and support each other to solve problems in spectroscopy.
  • Sponsored by OSA and SPIE, the Tunisian Optical Society actively performs research in the fields of optical fibre communications, optoelectronics, quantum communications, and photonics components for telecommunication-based applications. The activities hosted in Tunisia by the Optics & Photonics Student Chapter aim to diffuse the knowledge of optics while promoting research and connecting with industry leaders.
  • The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa is one of the leading scientific and technology research, development, and implementation organizations in Africa. Focusing on areas such as laser technology, built environment, biosciences, and defence, CSIR undertakes directed research and development for socio-economic growth.
  • Created by the CSIR, the African Laser Centre (ALC) aims to develop much-needed laser research capacity, infrastructure, technology transfer and applications throughout Africa. Objectives of the ALC include promoting the research and training programs of major laser research facilities in Africa, ensuring technology transfer of laser knowledge throughout the industry, and improving the quality of life for all African citizens.
  • The African Network for Solar Energy (ANSOLE) focuses on decreasing the exploitation of our Earth’s natural resources by exploring the potential of solar energy in Africa. It serves as a platform to connect stakeholders who are devoted to seeking the use of renewable energy forms to address the acute energy problem in Africa.