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Africa must prioritise STEM skills to benefit from innovation

Africa must prioritise STEM skills to benefit from innovation

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame opened the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Global Gathering 2018 in Kigali with a call for the continent to invest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills in order to create an innovation ecosystem and leverage the benefits.

Kagame said excellence in mathematics and science in Africa should not be limited to simply acquiring information and performing well on exams.

"The purpose is to apply that knowledge to solve the problems facing our continent and our world. That requires an innovation ecosystem in which government, business, and educational institutions all reinforce each other. There are many representatives from industry here, both among speakers and sponsors, and this is critically important. We need to build on the good initiatives underway to create more productive linkages with the African research and innovation community, both in universities and start-up firms."

At the event Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, Minister of Science and Technology for South Africa said partnerships are key to many of the country's success in science, maths and innovation.

"We (South Africa) put together strong institutions and today we have Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the National Research Foundation. The other thing we did to make sure that people feel comfortable and have access to the field is through funding for students who do their PHDs and the Masters. The collaboration between our government and our universities is one of our strengths because a lot of research today is done at university level. Collaboration between the public sector and private sector is important because we find gaps where a private institution has the resources while academics are without the money - and the government with the will and policy to change things. The partnership which brings the three together helps us to be where we are today."

Other government leaders attending the forum include Senegal's Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation Mary Teuw Niane and Theresia Bauer, Minister of Science, Research and the Arts in Germany's Baden- Württemberg State.

The NEF will release findings of a new survey on the gender gap that exists within STEM education in Africa.

The NEF Global Gathering 2019 will be hosted in Kenya.

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