Young Scientists

Justus Masa: "I can make a bigger impact when I do teaching Uganda"

Justus Masa, when he get his PhD in Germany, knew the universities in Uganda, is home country, have poor infrastructures to do research. So he decided to stay, and come to teach few times in the year in Uganda, waiting a better time to come back permanently.

Who are you?

My name is Justus Masa, I currently work in Germany at Ruhr University, Bochum as a research scientist and group leader of electrocatalysis and energy conversion. I also do lecturing at the same university. At the same time I am also a visiting lecturer in a university in Uganda called Kyambogo University.

Why did you go to Europe for your PhD?

I decided to go to Germany, not just as a matter of choice but as an imperative. Because the research infrastructure in Uganda is very poor if you aspire to do science at a very high level. So I competed for a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service. I went to Germany because I received this scholarship. If I don’t got this scholarship, maybe I would not have gone. So because I won, that is why I went.

Why didn’t you choose to come back to Africa after your PhD?

I feel like teaching is my convocation, I like to touch the lives of many people and I feel like giving back to society. Training other people to achieve even better than I have achieve for me is a better calling than beside. At the moment I am still based in Germany, I do my research in Germany, I also teach in Germany but I think I can make a bigger impact when I also do teaching Uganda where I train more people who can achieve similar thing that I achieved.

What are the obstacles to your return?

There are many many difficulties. For example, the university where I go to teach in Uganda is still as very poor infrastructure at the moment. There is absence of research completely. So we have to build research infrastructure. So this is one of the challenge of why I decided to stay in Germany for a while. But at the moment, I have acquired some equipment that can enable me to do some basic electrochemistry experiments and I am excited about this. I got a grant from The World Academy of Science to purchase the instrument. So this give me a good beginning point and I am hopeful that people like us must go and improve on the situation.

What would you say to young African PhD candidates who want to return to Africa?

I think Africa is growing. And it is exciting to be part of this growth. Let us not be trapped in the old mind that you can do nothing in Africa. I think whatever we can do, let us don’t focus on what we can not do. I think there is plenty of things we can do in Africa and for me it is an exciting time to come back to Africa and be a part of this process.

Interview by Anthony Audureau

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