AIMS Delegation Impresses Tanzanian President in Advance of Fifth Centre Opening

A high profile delegation from the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences - Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS-NEI) had an audience with H.E. Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania, and his Minister of Education and Vocational Training, Shukuru Kawambwa on May 30 in Toronto following the Canadian Summit on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.

AIMS Chairman and founder Neil Turok was joined at the meeting by Executive Director Thierry Zomahoun, Director of Strategic Partnerships Dr. Habiba Chakir, Director of Development and Public Engagement at AIMS-Tanzania Sam Awuku and Canadian Member of Parliament Joe Daniel.

“We were delighted to have an audience with the President,” said Neil Turok. “During our meeting with President Kikwete, we received concrete assurances that our plans for our new centre in Tanzania will move ahead this fall.”

The President met with the delegation immediately following the closing press conference with Canadian Prime Minister and summit co-chair Stephen Harper and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The meeting was held in the Prime Minister’s Suite at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel in the heart of Canada’s largest city. The President and minister were joined by H.E. Alex Massinda, High Commissioner of Tanzania to Canada, Hon. Ramadhan Abdalla Shaaban, Minister of Education and Vocational Training for Zanzibar and Prof. Sylvia Temu, Director of Higher Education for Tanzania. Temu recently attended the official launch of AIMS-Cameroon in Yaounde in February.

“We are excited to bring the AIMS formula of uniting top scholars in math and science to teach and research with Africa’s brightest students in Tanzania,” said Thierry Zomahoun. “Our graduates then apply these skills to tackle local development issues ranging from disease and famine to environmental degradation, illiteracy and poverty.”

The expansion is timely as Tanzania is experiencing rapid economic growth. Its economy at $31.9 billion (USD) grew 7.0 per cent in 2013. Tanzania’s economy is projected to grow by 7.2 per cent to $34.9 billion (USD) in 2014. As a result, the demand is exploding for a generation of youth that can apply science and math skills and knowledge to ensure rapid and stable social and economic development.

Only six per cent of post-secondary aged Africans are enrolled in apprenticeships, colleges or universities, compared to the global average of 26 per cent (UNESCO Institute of Statistics, Montreal, 2010). In Europe and North America the enrollment ratio is as high as 80 per cent. AIMS is playing a major role in closing this gap in Africa by establishing a network of centres of excellence for training, research and public engagement. The plan is to create a network of 15 centres across Africa, graduating more than 1,500 mathematical science experts - half of which will be women - annually by the year 2023. 

“We are grateful for the support of the government of Tanzania for AIMS,” says Zomahoun. “This support confirms it is part of a growing group of African nations that want to raise Africa’s profile as a continent where science is ennobled and applied to solve global issues.” He also acknowledged the support from the government of Canada, through the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

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