The New Times Kigali Collins Mwai
Displayed with permission from allAfrica.com

Education ministers from several African countries have resolved to join hands with view to increasing the number of PhD holders in their respective countries and jointly enhance the mobility of African researchers across the world.

The ministers, who made the resolution during a meeting in Kigali on Tuesday alongside officials from The Next Einstein Forum, an initiative under the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, said they need to step up efforts to increase a Pan-African pool of researchers and enhance their mobility.

Tuesday’s meeting was a follow-up on another forum held in March in Dakar, Senegal, which was also attended by President Paul Kagame.

The Kigali meeting attracted delegates from Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and hosts Rwanda.

Briefing the media, yesterday, Education minister Papias Musafiri said that African countries are seeking to bolster research collaboration between themselves, as well as improve funding mechanisms to grow homegrown researchers.

They are also keen on scaling up globally competitive innovations on the continent, he said.

During the meeting, participants tasked each African country to undertake efforts to ascertain the number of PhDs in every field as well as identify the strengths and weakness of their national systems.

They also agreed on the need to form a consortium that includes African and global institutions, including the private sector, that would work towards increasing funding for mobility of African researchers.

The mobility is meant to facilitate collaboration and partnership among African researchers and to enhance industry-focused innovations.

The move to increase the number of holders of doctoral degrees on the continent aims to enable Africa deal with the skills gap, especially in the area of science and technology.

Thierry Zomahoun, the president and CEO of African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), said that innovation-led transformation fn the continent is not sustainable without research, hence the need for collaborative research.

The current shortage of skilled professionals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, he said, would hold back the potential of making the most of future technologies.

He said that though the cost of the plan was yet to be determined, they were open to mobilising resources from all stakeholders.

Participants also discussed concerns of high levels of brain drain on the continent, which rob the continent of some of its brightest professionals.

Prof. Howard Alper, a board member of AIMS, said Africa can curb brain drain by providing a conducive environment and competitive packages for skilled professionals compared to what they are offered overseas.