By IVAN R. MUGISHA
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, President Paul Kagame has said.
The Rwandan president was speaking on Monday at the opening of the Next Einstein Forum hosted in Kigali.
The three-day forum, which attracted about 1,600 delegates, mainly scientists, researchers and students across the continent, aims to leverage science for human development.
“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 to the rest of the world, we cannot afford to leave our women and girls out of the equation,” Mr Kagame said.
“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.”
He also called on African governments, businesses, and institutions of learning to apply scientific knowledge in solving the problems facing Africa.
Last April, the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) campus — the sixth on the continent — was opened in Rwanda with a special focus on developing scientific innovations and research and encouraging youth to join science studies.
AIMs is now developing Africa’s first masters’ programme in machine intelligence, the institute’s founder Neil Turok, announced Monday.
He added that more scientific discoveries will be made in Africa.
“An advanced telescope (in Rwanda) will turn on in 2019 and we may see some real discoveries very soon after. A real discovery in Rwanda of international level will do much to excite the youth about studying hard and seeing opportunities in science,” Mr Turok said.
“South Africa will also host the world’s largest radio telescope that will turn on in the mid 2020s and will be the best instrumental for astronomy in the world.”
///The East African