The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) was founded in Cape Town, South Africa in 2003 as a pan-African center for post-graduate training and research providing advanced, broadly applicable mathematical skills to talented students recruited from all over Africa. Operating as a partnership between African and international universities, AIMS provides an innovative and relevant curriculum within an exceptional 24-hour learning environment. Outstanding international and African lecturers teach three week courses, leveraging the expertise and goodwill of the top academics from around the world.
AIMS is already making a big difference: as of June 2012, 442 students – 31% of them are women – from 35 African countries have graduated from AIMS-South Africa and AIMS-Senegal. Over 80% have gone into Master's and PhD programs directly after AIMS at excellent universities in Africa and abroad. AIMS graduates are now strengthening African universities, research centers, government and industry. For example, many of the mathematics lecturers at the Universities of Zambia and Khartoum are AIMS graduates and are now in turn educating hundreds of students each year.
From health research to information and communications technology, from finance and banking to climate forecasting, mathematical skills are the backbone of modern societies. Research shows that investment in university level education in Africa may well be the fastest route to technological catch-up and economic development. Although nearly one million students graduate from African universities each year, high level training is generally unavailable, particularly in scientific and technical fields. Few continue to Masters or PhDs, and of those that do, fewer still remain in Africa. All of these factors have led to a critical scarcity of mathematical and scientific expertise, adversely affecting all aspects of development including education, science, industry and government.
AIMS recruits students from all over Africa for a postgraduate program taught by outstanding international lecturers within an exceptional 24-hour learning environment. AIMS’ curriculum focuses on advanced, broadly applicable mathematical skills relevant to Africa’s development needs. Training in mathematical science is highly cost-effective: it requires no costly laboratory overhead, yet develops strong independent thinking and problem-solving abilities, preparing students for a range of scientific and technical careers. AIMS operates as a partnership between African and international universities, combining local ownership with international oversight and involvement.
About the Next Einstein Initiative
The Next Einstein Initiative (NEI) seeks to unlock and nurture scientific and technical talent across Africa. This plan is developed in the context of growing African economic, social, and political integration. We believe that this plan will contribute to this growth and integration.
NEI is a core program of AIMS and specifically involves the establishment and operation of a network of fifteen centres of excellence across Africa that is focused on the teaching of mathematical sciences to African university graduates. The initiative will be governed by an eminent Board of Directors and supported by a professional team of skilled knowledge workers appropriate to launching and expanding AIMS Centres.
AIMS-NEI will create a coordinated network of centres of excellence, recruiting outstanding graduates from all over Africa to learn math and science together. As demonstrated by AIMS–South Africa, their shared passion for science will bridge cultural and national divides and build a joint commitment to an improved future for Africa. Most will continue on to Masters and PhDs in fields relevant to African development. Some will follow academic careers, helping to build teaching and research capabilities in African universities. Others will proceed to leadership roles in government, industry and enterprise.
AIMS-NEI has been endorsed by the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), renowned African leaders and distinguished international scientists, academic institutions in Africa, Europe and North America, charitable foundations, and corporate partners including Google, Barclays, Vodacom, Petro-SA and others. The AIMS-NEI vision has resonated with international figures from scientist Stephen Hawking to Mark Shuttleworth (the first African in space), and even celebrities such as Bob Geldof, Bono, Will Smith, Forest Whitaker and many others, who have pledged their support. We wish to particularly acknowledge the extraordinary generosity of Brook and Shawn Byers, who were AIMS-NEI's founding donors at the TED conference in 2008.