Introduction

X-TechLab is a platform dedicated to the use of X-ray techniques for scientific and technological research around development issues specific to the African continent. It is being implemented in Benin within the Agence de Dévéloppement de Sèmè City (ADSC), the government agency in charge of the implementation of one of the flagship projects of the Government’s Action Programme, the International City of Innovation and Knowledge.

X-TechLab’s mission is to equip local and regional scientific communities with technical skills that will enable them to use X-ray techniques as tools to solve specific critical socio-economic problems. It also contributes to the emergence of a community of experts with the vocation to form the active nucleus of users of the future African synchrotron and to define its main priorities.

Its objective is to provide both theoretical and practical training in crystallography, tomography and the use of X-ray techniques (X-diffraction, X-scattering, X-ray imaging) so that they are integrated into the tools, to develop concrete solutions to problems in different areas: agriculture, health, the environment, water, energy, etc.

Two training sessions a year are planned in ” Crystallography and X-Ray Diffraction Techniques” and “Tomography and Mathematical Engineering.”

Summary

From May 13 to 24, and from November 18 to 28, 2019, the first and second X-TechLab training sessions took place. Eighteen international experts from Benin, Cameroon, France, Italy, Nigeria, Spain, Togo, UK and the USA were the trainers.

As the two sessions were complementary, the November session consisted of deepening the different concepts discussed during the previous one and complementing them with different applications.

Each of the X-TechLab training sessions welcomed some 50 participants from Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and Togo.

The major result from the first training session is the resolution of the crystalline structure of a new molecule synthesized by one of the Benin participants, Dr. Hyacinthe AGNIMONHAN of the Faculty of Science and Technology of the Université d’Abomey-Calavi. It was the first time in Benin’s history that a molecule was fully synthesized, characterized and whose structure was resolved on the spot.

The particularity of the second session was the adoption of English as the working language. The official closing ceremony of the training sessions took place on Thursday, November 28, 2019 at the Premises of the Agence de Dévéloppement de Sèmè City, in the presence of participants, trainers, several guests and media outlets. The most diligent and reactive participants during the courses, each received an award.

From the overall evaluation of the two training sessions, it is clear that there has been progress and improvement in the organization. Indeed, the points awarded to the 2nd session are higher than those of the 1st session on all aspects of the organization.

Difficulties

Some difficulties were encountered during the organization of the two training sessions.

These include:

  1. The lack of financial resources that prevented some foreign participants from participating in the second training section
  2. The adoption of English as a working language was painful for some participants, as they were originally francophones.

Strengths of training

Some strengths emerged from the organization of the training sessions, namely:

  1. The presence of the mono crystal diffractometer during the May session and the powder’s in November session, despite the difficulties encountered in the procedures of transfer of equipment
  2. The mobilization of supervisory experts in Crystallography, Tomography and Mathematics Engineering
  3. The participants’ motivation
  4. The analysis of more than sixty samples provided by participants during the two training sessions
  5. The synthesis and characterization of a molecule and the resolution of its structure on the spot, by Dr. Hyacinthe AGNIMONHAN of the Faculty of Science and Technology of the Université d’Abomey-Calavi.

Conclusion

At the end of these two training sessions, the participants came out satisfied and strengthened in their knowledge. The trainers reiterated their readiness to continue working with X-TechLab. Of all the evaluations carried out, we can remember that the organization of these trainings was a great success and deserves to be continued so that further progress is made, like the first crystal structure solved!

 

Thanks

We would like to thank our partners for their valuable support.

These include:

  1. Agence de Dévéloppement de Sèmè City, Main partner
  2. Centre Africain d’Excellence en Sciences Mathématiques et Applications (CEA-SMA)
  3. BRUKER
  4. Lightsource for Africa, the America, Asia and Middle East Project (LAAAMP)
  5. International Union of Crystallography (IUCr)
  6. Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (CEA)
  7. Institut de Thermique, Mécanique, Matériaux (ITheMM)
  8. Université d’Abomey-Calavi (UAC)
  9. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
  10. Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie (UPMC

 

Our deepest thanks also go to our august trainers.

We are grateful for their availability.

These include:

  1. Claude LECOMTE, Université de Lorraine (FRANCE)
  2. Florence PORCHER, Laboratoire Léon Brillouin UMR 12 CEA/CNRS (FRANCE)
  3. Emmanuel WENGER, Université de Lorraine (FRANCE)
  4. El-Eulmi BENDEIF, Université de Lorraine (FRANCE)
  5. Patrice KENFACK, Université de Dschang (CAMEROON)
  6. François HILD, CNRS (FRANCE)
  7. Djimédo KONDO, Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille (FRANCE)
  8. Alain FANGET, Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (FRANCE)
  9. Dominique JEULIN, Mines-Paris Tech (FRANCE)
  10. Thierry DUVAUT, Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne (FRANCE)
  11. José Manuel MERINO ALVAREZ, Université Autonome de MADRID (SPAIN)
  12. Eberhardt Josué FRIEDRICH KERNAHAN, Université Autonome de MADRID (SPAIN)
  13. Michele ZEMA, Université de Pavia, IUCr Executive Outreach Officer (ITALY)
  14. Suzanna WARD, Director of the Cambridge Structural Data Base (UK)
  15. Thomas BLANTON, Executive Director of International Centre of Diffraction Data (USA)
  16. Philip OLADIJO, International University of Sciences and Technologies (BOTSWANA)