The Canadian government has pledged support of $20 million CDN (more than R140 million) towards the AIMS-Next Einstein Initiative (NEI) to develop Africa’s brighest young minds through training in science and mathematics. It will enable the establishment of a network of facilities for the development of postgraduate science and technology capacity in five African countries, based on the successful model of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Cape Town.
The grant was championed by the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario’s Global Outreach Programme. Perimeter’s director, the South African born Dr Neil Turok, is also the founder of AIMS and initiator of the AIMS-Next Einstein Initiative.
The Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, announced the new federal funding as a central element of a partnership between universities, the private sector and African governments. The announcement was made on Wednesday at Perimeter Institute and involved Dr Stephen Hawking, Perimeter Institute Distinguished Research Chair as well as patron of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS).
Thanks to the Canadian funding received, and with support of Perimeter Institute, this model will be rolled out by 2015 to three additional centres by 2015 in Senegal, Ghana and Ethiopia alongside the existing centers in Cape Town, South Africa and Abuja, Nigeria . In the longer term, the AIMS Next Einstein Initiative seeks to create a network of 15 AIMS centres by 2020, graduating 750 scientists and technologists per annum.
AIMS was founded in 2003 to promote postgraduate education and research in mathematics and science across Africa. It is joint project supported by Stellenbosch University, the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape, Oxford University, Cambridge University and University Paris-Sud-XI.
At the moment it annually sees around sixty talented students from all over Africa following the AIMS postgraduate programme in Muizenberg. Local and international lecturers present courses in various classical and modern areas in the mathematical sciences, as well as in developing problem solving and computational skills.
Prof Turok thanked the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada for accelerating the growth of scientific centres of excellence in Africa. “We are honoured today to be working with the government of Canada in support of its efforts to build a better, safer world in which health, freedom, peace and solvency – rights, which characterise life in Canada – are shared by all. With today’s announcement of major support for AIMS, Canada is also pioneering the sharing of knowledge and expertise as a route to development. Just as ideas and innovation are the foundation of Canada’s new economy, they will be the basis of Africa’s future economic, educational, scientific and governance self-sufficiency.”
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