African Laser Centre: The African Laser Centre was established in November 2003 by a group of African countries with an interest in laser applications, the Centre was destined to be a virtual centre that will serve as a central point for coordinating a network of excellence in laser research across the continent.  The establishment of the Centre followed deliberations held during two continental workshops and various task team meetings over a period of three years, and was initiated by the CSIR National Laser Centre in South Africa, and the LAM Network in Senegal under the leadership of Prof Amadou Wague. 

The ALC initiative is a NEPAD recognised flagship programme.  Through a dedicated funding support from the South African Department of Science and Innovation over the years the program has built an impressive network of laser-based research across the African continent. 

The ALC strive to:

  • be a virtual center of excellence for the African continent.
  • be an open non-exclusive partnership to stimulate innovation, research and technology development in lasers and the application thereof, across Africa.
  • seek local, continental and global partnerships to achieve its aims.
  • The ALC is an AU-NEPAD Flagship Program
  • A key node of ALC is managed as a DSI funded program within the CSIR National Laser Centre, in South Africa.

The purpose of the programme is to support laser and optics related research across the African continent. The ALC as a virtual network has the following broad objectives:

  • To promote research and training in lasers, optics and photonics;
  • To promote and foster technological innovation in the use of lasers, optics and photonics;
  • To promote collaboration among laser researchers:
  • Between African laser institutions and their international counterparts,
  • To enhance the efforts of any other laser-driven initiatives in Africa.
  • To reverse the brain drain of researchers from the African continent; 
  • To facilitate the availability of:
  • financial resources, 
  • technical assistance,
  • equipment loans, exchanges and transfers.
  • To improve the quality of life of all African peoples.

In essence the ALC is a virtual centre of excellence, which consists of nodes of research institutes all over the African continent. Membership is open to all research institutes in Africa that are actively involved in laser and optics-related science and technology through R&D, education or training.  


Due to support from the Department of Science and Innovation, annual calls to supported research collaboration between South African researchers and African researchers, various training events, and ALC Scholarships for study at South African Universities are supported annually. 


In its 17 years of existence, the ALC has made significant progress in its programmes with typically between 10 and 15 research projects supported annually, on average 6 to 8 training events supported annually for researchers and students that were arranged as well as the ALC Student Workshop held every year in SA where progress on joint projects between SA and African institutions is reported. The program on average produce more than 30 journal publications per year, and up to 15 ALC Scholarships for African students to study at South African Universities are made available. More specifically, in the 2019 year 19 research collaborations were supported, which involved 94 researchers and 99 students, 50 which at PhD level. These projects covered 12 African countries. The program produced 63 journal publications and 54 conference proceedings. In 2020, the ALC research collaboration program will support 14 research collaboration projects, and will support 16 postgraduate students of which 13 at PhD level for post-graduate studies at SA universities.