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Africa’s 54 countries have wildly differing economic outlooks and research landscapes. But across the board, they suffer from a shortage of local scientific skills needed to improve access to water, energy, nutritious food and reliable health systems, says Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim in this audio interview.
This is where a new PhD fund, coordinated by the African Academy of Sciences and the Planet Earth Institute, of which Gurib-Fakim is vice-chair, plans to help. The idea is that students will focus on sectors in critical need of attention.
Health is a good example. The West African Ebola epidemic revealed the catastrophic state of health research capacity and education in the affected countries, and how detrimental this can be to containing disease, Gurib-Fakim says. “If we had the testing ability and the basic education around the sciences — hygiene for example — we probably, and hopefully, would not have had the human disaster that we saw during the Ebola crisis.”
“Industry-relevant research” will also underpin a PhD project that aims to forge much closer relationships between the private sector and researchers. But will this carry a human price? Gurib-Fakim weighs the pros and cons of handing the reins of research to industry.
This is part of the Africa’s PhD Renaissance series funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.