The Allotey Formalism: The Man Who Formulated the Technique Used to Determine Matter in Outer Space, Professor Francis K.A. Allotey, Receives the 2006 Black S/heroes Award. Kwaku Reports

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The Ghanaian scientist and mathematician, Professor Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey, was the recipient of the BTWSC Black S/Heroes Award (BSA) 2006. As part of the award, the Professor Allotey Science Prize has been launched in his honour. The presentation was made by the London-based voluntary organisation BTWSC (whose name was taken from the organisation's first youth empowerment project called Beyond The Will Smith Challenge).

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BTWSC's aim is to develop potential, raise aspirations and promote social inclusion. Taking on the ethos of the African proverb which says "until the lion tells its story, history will be written from the viewpoint of the hunter", BTWSC developed the BSA in 2003 to honour unsung people of African descent who have made a laudable contribution to mankind.

The 2006 award fell to Prof Allotey whose busy schedule prevented him from receiving it in person. "I am really sorry that I cannot come personally to receive it," he said in his acceptance speech read on his behalf by his wife, the retired Ghanaian chief attorney, Mrs Asie Allotey. "For in the past one month, I have been to Italy, Brazil, Portugal and Sweden. In Sweden, I was also given an honorary doctorate degree by Karlstad University for my achievements."

It is his immense contribution to science that made him the recipient of BSA 2006. "The Allotey Formalism", the technique used to determine matter in outer space, is named after him, and is one of his achievements known outside the scientific community. However, although he is lauded internationally among the academic and scientific communities, he is not generally well known among the general public.

Now 74, Prof Allotey became the first Ghanaian full professor in mathematics and head of the Department of Mathematics at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in 1973. He is the founder of the Ghana Energy Research Group, and has been its coordinator since 1985. His latest awards include the King/Chevez/Park Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan, USA.

A member of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy; the International Institute of Theoretical and Applied Physics in Ames, USA; and the UNESCO Physics Action Council, Prof Allotey is also a patron of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, in South Africa, and the Computing Society of Ghana. …