Yale at the Next Einstein Forum, ‘Securing Africa’s Future Through STEM’

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Elsie S. Kanza, head of Africa at the World Economic Forum, speaks on an NEF panel on “Driving the Agenda for African Women in STEM." (Photo courtesy Next Einstein Forum)

The Next Einstein Forum (NEF), the first global science forum to be in held in Africa. took place March 8-10 in Dakar, Senegal. The forum brought together over 700 diverse participants from 80 countries, including many scientists, mathematicians, and technologists — nearly 50% of them women and under the age of 42. Also on hand were representatives from government, the private and public sectors, and academia, including Yale.

The forum was hosted by President Macky Sall of Senegal and opened with a keynote address by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

The event featured workshops focused on science and innovation and showcased NEF’s fellows from across Africa. The forum’s overarching goal was to foster global partnerships and commitments toward the development of a strong science technology engineering, and mathematics (STEM) network within Africa. Attendees also emphasized the great need for regional collaboration and investment in basic and applied sciences.

Watch: “Can the Next Einstein Come from Africa?”

Dr. Michael Cappello, Yale professor of pediatrics and co-director of the Yale Africa Initiative, participated in the groundbreaking forum. “The success of the Next Einstein Forum demonstrates a meaningful commitment to integrating African science, and its next generation of scientists, into the global research community,” he said.

“For many years, Yale faculty have advanced their scholarship through collaborative relationships in Africa, and each year the educational experiences of countless students are enriched by exploring issues of relevance to the continent,” Cappello continued. “I hope that Yale will embrace its responsibility as a global university, as well as this unique strategic opportunity, to develop sustainable partnerships with African institutions that share a commitment to knowledge creation and discovery.”

Thierry Zomahoun, chair of the NEF and president and CEO of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) said: “Everything we are doing is to provide, and to create the right environment for the next Einstein to emerge from Africa.” AIMS offers STEM education to African students and works to improve the statistic that less than 1% of global research is Africa-based. AIMS has launched centers in Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania.

Yale’s Dr. Martial Ndeffo-Mbah, a research scientist at Yale School of Public Health who is working on the epidemiology of microbial diseases, graduated from AIMS in 2005.

The NEF is expressly committed to an actionable roadmap aimed at enabling science-driven development by forging strategic partnerships, securing increased investment, developing research capacity, encouraging education, empowering young African scientists and promoting diversity and women in STEM. The next NEF Global Gathering will be held in 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, which is home to the AIMS headquarters, Africa’s first quantum research center Quantum Leap Africa and the Next Einstein Forum secretariat.

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