The Next Einstein Forum (NEF), an initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with Robert Bosch Stiftung, has launched the NEF Africa Science Week in Nairobi, Kenya.
Sylvia Mukasa, NEF Ambassador, ICT Telecommunications Consultant and entrepreneur with a special focus on emerging enterprise technologies and Cloud Computing, together with local academic, science and technology champions, will lead the event.
The event aims to recalibrate innovation in Kenya with the right investments and incubator environment can lead to real economic dividends. The goal is to raise public awareness on the importance of science and technology (school age kids, general public, gatekeepers are most targeted). As well, is to foster collaboration among various research actors and initiatives so that there is coordinated public engagement around science and tech in Africa.
“We want to provide that platform for relevant discussions and monetary commitments towards research and development in Kenya”, say Sylvia Mukasa, NEF Ambassador.
According to Mukasa, no country has every developed without heavy long term investments in science research and development. Most African countries haven’t committed more than 1% of their GDP to research and development except South Africa, which has committed to reach 1% by 2020. This hampers Africa’s ability to sustainable transform itself on a socio-economic level and compete globally.
“The NEF Africa Science Week is the first coordinated science week across Africa. Our primary objective is to develop tomorrow’s scientists and technologists by engaging children and young people in scientific activities like hackathons. Our activities will also demonstrate the critical impact of science to the general public. By bringing together key stakeholders from all sectors, we hope to catalyse investment in research and development and discuss best practices for attracting and retaining young people, especially girls and women, in the sciences,” said Thierry Zomahoun, AIMS President and CEO and NEF Chair.
Africa Science Week in Kenya will witness sessions such as hackathons, a Women in Science Day, hands-on demos but also panels on Agriculture and Technology and entrepreneurships with mentoring on financial planning.
“The week-long signature event will also strengthen research networks and communities of scientists across Africa and we hope that the next few editions will see technology facilitate coordinated regional activities. We would like to thank our partners in the public, academic and private sector for supporting this initiative. Africa will only compete globally if there are coordinated sustainable investments in building the pipeline of researchers and innovators,” said Zomahoun.
Africa Science Week in Kenya is the first of a 13-country series. Looking to the future, the NEF will expand the reach of its Africa Science Week to 30 countries in 2018 and all 54 by 2020. Beyond numbers, the NEF hopes that Africa Science Week will grow to include major activities in schools and universities, and result in concrete collaboration between the research community and private sector.
In line with NEF’s Dakar Declaration, issued at the first biennial NEF Global Gathering, held in Dakar, Senegal in March 2016, Africa Science Week will place public engagement at the heart of advancing Africa’s scientific agenda. The next edition of the NEF Global Gathering will be held in Kigali in March 2018 under the patronage of Rwanda President Paul Kagame.
Africa Science Week is funded by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Google and local sponsors in the each country.