President of AIMS speaks at CMU-Carnegie Mellon University Africa - Carnegie Mellon University

President of AIMS speaks at CMU

Fresh from his visit with His Excellency President Paul Kagame, Thierry Zomahoun, President of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences spoke last week at CMU in Kigali during an event we hosted with Kigali Shapers on the topic of “STEM Education: STEM education: Key to an emerging Africa”. Kigali Shapers events take the form of lively interactive discussions and last week’s session was certainly no exception. Zomahoun’s talk pulled no punches and clearly demonstrated his passion for developing STEM research in Africa

Zomahoun first spoke about his Next Einstein Forum initiative, which was created because there was no platforms for young African researchers. “There are difficulties in getting visas and getting resources to get to conferences so there was a need for NEF, “ he explained.

“There are abundant reports from think tanks pointing to the fact that Africa will lead the world technology, economically, you name it. Is the next Einstein going to come from Africa? Yes!”

“Europe is shrinking and because it is aging, where is Africa is growing. When you have 40% of young people calling Africa home we will have a demographic dividend.

When we see Africans dying in the Mediterranean sea, we can harness this power instead then the whole world will benefit. And, if we fail young people? Well then…we think Boko Haram is a problem? You have not seen anything yet!”

 When responding to audience questions about the mobile services revolution in Africa, his response was certainly a provocative departure from the usual thinking:

“There will only be a mobile revolution when Africa starts to manufacture its own Ipads. So far the mobile revolution has only benefited the counties who make these devices. However the revolution is about the social benefits that these applications are bringing to Africa. Africa is emerging, that is a fact.”

He continued with insightful and thoughtful comments as the discussion turned to African resources and resource economies: “We need scientific and technological advancement within acceptable environmental parameters if we are to go beyond commodity economy. This we can only do by harnessing science and technology. We need homegrown technology not imported. We cannot have brilliant technologies in Rwanda if math and science is taught poorly at primary and secondary level.”

The question and answer session ended with a topic close to our mission in Carnegie Mellon University, that of developing African research for African solutions. Zomahoun was very clear on his views:

“If it doesn't solve our problem it’s a useless technology. Lets learn from the west but lets do it our own way.”

CMU is educating the next generation of African engineers and empowering them to do it their way.

KIGALI SHAPERS are our local hub of World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community is a network of Hubs developed and led by young people who are exceptional in their potential, their achievements and their drive to make a contribution to their communities. The event was held on Wednesday 13th May 2015.