Africa needs more women scientists

Africa needs more women scientists

We cannot afford to leave our women and girls out of the equation.

A global gathering on science has called on African governments to close the gender gap and promote development in science, technology and innovation.

According to the many speakers who took the stage during the three-day gathering of the Next Einstein Forum, Africa needs more women in science for the continent to make collective gains in incomes and health benefits that come with advancements in scientific fields.


This was the predominant message that Africa’s scientists and innovators gathered in Kigali, Rwanda, reiterated.

The Next Einstein Form is a biennial global gathering where scientists meet on African soil to look into existing challenges as well as unveil breakthroughs in science.

While opening the forum, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame bemoaned the gender gap in the world of science and technology in Africa, calling for the urgent need to bridge that gap.

“For too long, Africa allowed itself to be left behind. But that is starting to change, as we see in the important work on display. But as Africa catches up with the rest of the world, we cannot afford to leave our women and girls out of the equation.

“The gender gap in science is a global phenomenon but that is no reason to accept it as inevitable. Whatever the causes may be, we have to dedicate ourselves to closing the gap because opportunity will never be equal without equal access to knowledge,” said Mr Kagame.


He also called on African governments, businesses, and institutions of learning to apply scientific knowledge in solving the problems facing Africa.

To encourage more African scientists to publish their works seen on a global platform, the Forum, in partnership with Elsevier, a science and health publisher, rolled out a pan-African, peer-reviewed, open access publishing journal called Scientific African. The journal is intended to be a globally acclaimed online publication dedicated to amplifying the global reach and impact of African research as it will be targeted at academics and be multi-disciplinary, covering research from biology and health through physics and astronomy.

The success of the journal will be measured by its impact on global research, in particular how many times research published by the journal is cited by other journals over a given time period, usually a year to five years.


The gathering also endorsed the Kigali declaration aiming to create a pan-African innovation-driven community. “Africa should not stand idle in the wake of global technological advances. Science and technology has the potential to build vibrant social and economic growth on the continent,” said Thierry Zomahoun, president and chief executive of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) and NEF Founder and Chair.

While urging governments to focus more on investing in science, technology and research coupled with required infrastructure, Mr Zomahoun said Africa should not only be consumers of global technology, but also inventors and managers of technologies.

Kenya will host a biennial global gathering that brings together scientists, policymakers, business leaders, civil society leaders and entrepreneurs to focus on highlighting contributions of Africa’s scientists and innovators to the global scientific community.


The Next Einstein Forum (NEF) will be held in Nairobi in 2020, following the culmination of the second gathering that was held in Kigali, Rwanda, President Paul Kagame announced last week.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta has agreed to host the next NEF in Kenya,” Kagame said at the second edition of the forum which took place between March 26 and 28.

The Next Einstein Forum is an initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with Robert Bosch Stiftung, a German charitable institution.

Launched in 2013, the NEF aims to connect science, society and policy in Africa and the rest of the world – with the goal to leverage science for human development globally.

Highlights of the programme include NEF Fellows spotlight session revealing Africa’s top scientists under 42.

The biennial event organises global gatherings every two years in a different African country.

The forum is also working to build a targeted team of 54 young ambassadors, one from each African country, to champion African science, technology, engineering and mathematics globally and become part of the growing NEF community.