Dr. Justus Masa, a Ugandan Lecturer at Kyambogo University and Senior Group Leader of Electrocatalysis and Energy at Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany is among the 17 recipients of awards at the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Global Gathering that took place in Kigali, Rwanda from March 26 to 28, 2018.
The NEF fellows programme is a two year programme which recognizes and awards Africa’s young scientists, innovators and technologists.
The 2017/2019 winners emerged from Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Niger, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Guinea, DRC, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Ghana, Senegal, Egypt, Nigeria, and Mali. The strategic objective of NEF Community of Scientists includes, harnessing the benefits of science and innovation to influence policy, education, training, leadership, research excellence, funding, and collaboration.
Of these scientists, innovators and emerging leaders, 40% are women. NEF fellows or Ambassadors participate in campaigns and events to encourage young people to pursue scientific careers and drive research-based incubators and start-ups.
The High profile function was graced by host President Paul Kagame as well as the President of the Republic of Senegal Macky Sall. The two presidents, who were part of a panel discussion, noted that prioritizing science and innovation can lead to economic development.
President Kagame used the history of Rwanda and how the government zeroed on the ecosystem of investing in ICT in the early 2000s when every sector was in shambles but the country has seen the dividends from that investment especially with regards to the people-centered approach they undertook (human capacity development).
Kagame added that almost 80% of the young scientists who were sent abroad in the 2000s to train in science have returned home and are currently the driving force of innovation, research and development in both government and the private sector.
The approach to empower women and girls has helped to bridge the education imbalance gap. He further informed that between 15% to 17% of their GDP is geared towards education and health.
President Macky Sall noted that they envisage NEF becoming a yearly event bringing together African Heads of State to support science and innovation to enhance development in Africa like the recently concluded Continental Free Trade Agreement.
Among the Next Einstein Initiatives is the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) which is Africa’s first and biggest pan African network of centres for postgraduate training, research and public engagement in mathematical sciences. It operates centres in South Africa, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Story authored by Ambassador Juliet Kiggundu, Uganda’s Ambassador to Rwanda
photo credit: Uganda High Commission Kigali /