Young African scientists urge govts to trust homegrown talent

Gisa Murera appealed to African states to trust the young generation. Régis Umurengezi

Young scientists from across Africa have appealed to their governments to give them a chance to participate in the implementation of major projects.

The request was raised on Wednesday by students from the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) while sharing their experiences with their counterparts from Ruhengeri Institute of Applied Science (INES).

AIMS is a network of the continent’s centres of excellence in mathematics and sciences whose aim is to develop a pool of skilled mathematicians and scientists.

A cohort of nine students have completed master’s programmes in Mathematical Sciences and Machine Intelligence at AIMS Rwanda and undertook a six-month internship at different firms across the country.

However, they say that quite often African governments prefer to outsource foreign talent, hence undercooking African scientists.

Justine Sylivera, from Tanzania who, during her internship programme at Rwanda Revenue Authority, worked on a fraud detection project and discovered that more than 100 companies evading taxes, told The New Times that the time has come for African states to value local scientists.

“We can but we are just not given the chance to do what we can, people don’t trust Africans. Some have misconception that if you are a white person then you know everything,” she said.

What I would recommend from our African leaders, she noted, is to give us a chance to compete professionally.

“I am sure and certain that if chances are given to the right people they will do it perfectly,” Sylivera added.

 Gisa Murera, from Rwanda, echoed Sylvera’s sentiments, suggesting that technical experts should only be outsourced to train nationals on a short term basis.

“I highly recommend African officials to trust the young generation and train them effectively for us to be able to compete with those foreigners and our economy will be based on the knowledge that we have,” he noted

The Director of Academics at AIMS Rwanda, Prof. Blaise Tchapnda, pointed out that all Africa needs is to build the capacity of its own scientists so as to create a critical mass of professionals in various fields.

“We should do a lot to raise awareness at the very basic level in secondary and primary schools so that we get more students in the pipeline who are interested in doing science subjects,” he advised.

The Rector of INES Ruhengeri, Fr Dr. Fabien Hagenimana, said there is no excuse for decision makers to overly rely on foreign talent.

“For example this Pana-African institution (AIMS), together with other partners, are raising our level and we are confident that there is no need to keep hiring people from outside Africa,” He noted

“Those who are hired should be given condition to be working with Africans so that tomorrow and day after the Africans may take over,” added Hagenimana

Some 47 students from across Africa are undertaking their master’s programme in Mathematical sciences at AIMS Rwanda, while 30 others are studying their master’s programme in Machine intelligence.


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