Mauritian President Calls for Scientific Innovation
MEDIA CLUB SOUTH AFRICA
She is already a scientist, biologist and president of Mauritius. Now Ameenah Gurib-Fakim can add another role to her list. She has been appointed vice chairman and trustee of the Planet Earth Institute (PEI), an international nongovernmental organization striving for the scientific independence of Africa.
“Mauritius has a proud track record of investing in scientific excellence and developing research,” she said. “In the future, science, technology and innovation will be vital in creating jobs and prosperity for our citizens in Mauritius and across the mainland African continent.”
In November 2014, PEI opened an office in Mauritius to run science, technology and innovation programs. The organization’s headquarters are in London; it also has an office in Luanda, Angola. PEI said Africa’s scientific output is among the lowest globally. “As a continent of over a billion people and more than 50 nations, it has been producing roughly the same amount of scientific research as the Netherlands for the last 20 years,” the institute said.
Science is underrepresented and overlooked by Africa’s students, with only about 1 in 10 choosing science, technology, engineering or mathematics as university concentrations. As a result, Africa continues to look elsewhere for scientific knowledge and expertise.
The PEI wants to change that. “Scientific independence is not and could never be scientific isolation — collaboration and co-operation is at the heart of scientific progression — but scientific independence for Africa means ultimately Africa can take better control of its resources, its people and its future,” the organization said.
Dr. Álvaro Sobrinho, chairman of the PEI, said it is time for scientific and technological output to catch up with economic growth on the continent. “If we want to ensure that sustainable development is a reality for all, we must make greater investments in science and technology, and equip our next generations with the skills they need to compete in a globalized, 21st century workplace.”