Will the next Einstein be from Africa?

12 November 2013

Could the next Einstein come from Africa? The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) certainly thinks so.

AIMS was conceived by South African cosmologist Neil Turok, described by Wired magazine as “one of Africa’s most decorated scientists”. The project, which seeks to develop a new generation of scientists on the continent, celebrated its 10-year anniversary last week.

It is supported by private and public funding, including a US$20-million contribution from the Canadian government, through its International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

AIMS partners with international universities to “enable Africa’s brightest students to flourish as independent thinkers, problem solvers and innovators capable of propelling Africa’s future scientific, educational and economic self-sufficiency”, the IDRC said in a statement last Thursday.

AIMS already has centres in South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, and Cameroon that are providing “rigorous mathematical science training” for postgraduate students from across Africa, the IDRC said.

The pan-African network partners top academics at African and international universities, and has produced more than 500 graduates, about one-third of whom are women. The graduates come from 35 different African countries: Egypt, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Botswana, Mozambique and Algeria, among others.

“It has been the thrill of a lifetime to see AIMS lift off as a continent-wide institution powered by the motivation of young African scientists and guided by their dreams,” Turok writes on the IDRC website.

“AIMS alumni are becoming the drivers of Africa’s development with all their skills, intelligence, confidence, and commitment. AIMS’ first decade has been spectacular: its second will be transformational.”

International Development Research Centre and SAinfo reporter