Canada pledges R140 million towards AIMS-Next Einstein Initiative in Africa
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.”
The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper commended AIMS’ revolutionary approach and said, “History shows that our world becomes safer, healthier and more stable through advances made in science and technology. Humanity’s ascent from ignorance and barbarism to enlightenment and equality has been a fitful and uneven process. If there is, however, a universal constant in human affairs, it is that the expansion of knowledge and technology has continuously made life better for more people. That’s why our government is supporting scientific and technological research, as well as development at home and abroad.”
According to Prof Barry Green, director of AIMS in Cape Town, he is elated about the announcement. “This will provide funding for AIMS scholarships, educational outreach and the AIMS-NEI Secratariat, which will have offices in our centre, but we are most excited that this will help to establish a pan-African network of similar centres in five African countries by 2015. ”
African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) – www.aims.ac.za
AIMS Next Einstein Initiative www.nexteinstein.org/
Perimeter Institute www.perimeterinstitute.ca/
Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics is an independent, non-profit, scientific research and educational outreach organization where international scientists cluster to push the limits of our understanding of physical laws and develop new ideas about the very essence of space, time, matter and information. The centre provides a multi-disciplinary environment to foster scientific collaboration in research areas of cosmology, particle physics, quantum foundations, quantum gravity, quantum information, superstring theory, and related disciplines. PI also provides a wide array of award-winning outreach programs for students, teachers and the general public across Canada in order to share the joy of research, discovery and innovation. In partnership with the Governments of Ontario and Canada, PI continues to be a successful example of private and public collaboration in science research and education.