Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Global Gathering 2016, an international conference focused on the development of science and technology in Africa, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz emphasised the importance of partnership.

Speaking at a plenary panel at the conference in Dakar, Senegal, the Vice-Chancellor – a founding patron of the NEF – stressed the need for collaboration to develop the capacity for excellent research across the continent:

“The challenges we face today – from food security and climate change to sustainable energy – are global. So, too, are the solutions we seek. The complexity, the scale, and the urgency of the challenges demand that we work together.”

The NEF Global Gathering is an initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, a pan-African higher education and research institution with campuses in South Africa, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, Tanzania and Rwanda.

The Vice-Chancellor expressed his support for the Global Gathering and remarked: “We call this the Next Einstein Forum. A fine name, in honour of a fine scientist, who would surely have given his full support to what we are trying to achieve together. But perhaps what Africa needs is not the next Einstein.”

Citing one of Uganda’s most respected virologists, and one of the foremost Gambian researchers, he said: “What we should be doing is trying to find the next Nelson Sewankambo, or the next Tumani Corrah. We are too quick to invoke Einstein. I say that not because our aspirations are too low –but because they should be much higher. They revolve around a new generation of African scientists, working on African solutions to some of Africa’s most pressing issues.”

He added: “What African science needs is not a new Einstein – or even a hundred new Einsteins. Africa needs scientists who are confident and able to harness the power of global partnerships. African scientists need to respond to the imperative of strategic alliances. African scientists need to set the agenda of closer collaboration between academia, policymakers and the private sector. We are all here because we want to work alongside these scientists to contribute to that collective effort.”

The Vice-Chancellor cited the Cambridge-Africa Programme as a model for collaboration with African scientists. “It is a model that serves the African researchers’ countries of origin. Crucially, to date it is a model that prevents any brain drain. Of the 55 Cambridge-Africa Fellows that have passed through Cambridge since the programme was formally launched, almost all are now working in laboratories and universities in their home countries. This Cambridge-Africa Programme is about allowing excellent African research to flourish.”

The next edition of NEF Global Gathering will take place in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2018.

Read the Vice-Chancellor's speech in full here: http://www.v-c.admin.cam.ac.uk/professor-sir-leszek-borysiewicz/speeches...

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