The East African Institute for Fundamental Research (EAIFR) was last week opened in Kigali with an aim to raise the quality of science research and education in Africa.
Based at the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology (CST), the centre’s establishment was supported by the Government of Rwanda, through the Ministry of Education, in partnership with International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) and its United Nations partner UNESCO.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the new facility, Eugene Mutimura, the Minister for Education, said government is committed to supporting initiatives aimed at promoting research among African scientists.
“The Government recognises the importance of science, technology, research and innovation and their critical contribution to shape the socio-economic transformation of nations worldwide and we proudly support the establishment of such a world-class learning and research facility like East African Institute for Fundamental Research,” said Mutimura.
“African citizens have the right to high quality science education. Together, with our international partners, ICTP and UNESCO, we will support a strong foundation for science in Africa.”
Africa is home to 15 per cent of the world’s population and produces just 2 per cent of the world’s research output, according to statistics.
Africa currently has 198 researchers per million people, compared to 428 in Chile and over 4,000 in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Following EAIFR’s inauguration, scientists from all over Africa and the world can keep up to date with the latest research and form partnerships by attending the institute’s short-term schools and workshops.
Meanwhile, scientists who are more advanced in their careers will keep up to date with the latest research advances by attending the institute’s short-term schools and workshops that will be at par with the quality of ones held at ICTP in Trieste, Italy.
Rwanda’s policy of advancement through science makes it the natural location of a world-class physics centre that aims to become the most important physics institute in Africa, officials said.
Initially, ICTP-EAIRF’s research programme will include exploration in condensed matter physics, physics of the solid earth, and high energy, cosmology and astroparticle physics.
Education Minister Eugene Mutimura speaks during the inauguration of EAIFR Centre in Kigali on Thursday. Eddie Nsabimana.
In addition, the institute will offer quality education opportunities leading to masters and PhD degrees in physics.
The internationally recruited resident scientists who will be working at the new institute are experts in their fields committed to building sustainable science in Africa.
ICTP-EAIFR director Omololu Akin-Ojo says the new institute is an African research hub, adding: “We aim to facilitate regional collaboration, communication, and education, through activities that are exactly in line with ICTP’s own goals.”
ICTP is the leading global institution with a dual mission of supporting excellent scientific research as well as building scientific capacity in developing countries.
Fernando Quevedo, the ICTP Director, said, “From its inception, ICTP has been committed to building sustainable science throughout the world, and especially in disadvantaged countries. Thanks to generous support from the Government of Rwanda, ICTP’s new partner institute will ensure that scientists in Africa have access to the same research and education opportunities as those living in more advantaged parts of the world.”
ICTP has been helping in creating other institutes, such as the ICTP-South American Institute for Fundamental Research in Brazil, and the Mesoamerican Centre for Theoretical Physics in Mexico. It will soon open a new UNESCO category 2 institute, ICTP-Asia Pacific, in China.