The NEF Global Gathering is a biennial gathering to be held 8-10 March 2016 in Dakar, Senegal. NEF Global Gatherings are more than 3-day conferences; they are global meetings of the minds to position science at the centre of global development efforts. With this strong focus on youth, and the expected presence of 10 Heads of State from across Africa, there is an exceptional opportunity for global science leaders’ voices to be heard and have major impact on Africa’s scientific future, through mentoring young people and through influencing continental science policy.
Last month, four Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Fellows attended the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2015 in Dalian, China, and were shocked that there was no scientific representation from Africa on panels on a wide range of topics from digital innovation to unexpected discoveries. Earlier this year at the Annual Meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Jose, California, an important panel on Ebola was held without a single African researcher or medical personnel working on the ground in West Africa. NEF Fellow Noble Banadda described it this way, “Although there is a shift in narrative in all other sectors, African scientists and the global work they are doing remains invisible; Africa is rising but not in science.”
Through the NEF, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), hopes to change this narrative. In 2013, after ten years of successfully training Africa’s brightest students in mathematical sciences and launching promising scientific careers through partner funded research chairs and grants, AIMS wanted to do more to affect large scale change. AIMS, in partnership with Robert Bosch Stiftung, launched the NEF as a continental platform to strengthen science education and research across the continent, showcase Africa’s top young scientists and leverage science led development. African governments have already identified the urgency of placing science and technology at the center of their development agendas and the NEF will partner with the African Union, partners across the spectrum and scientists to bring about sustained progress. The NEF believes that Africa’s contributions to the global scientific community are critical for global progress. At the centre of AIMS and NEF efforts are Africa’s young people, the driving force for Africa’s scientific renaissance.