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Governments are following the wrong policies when donating money to Africa and should focus on developing their science, technology and higher education capabilities, according to the founder of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS).

Neil Turok, chair of mathematical physics at the UK's Cambridge University, said: "If Africa doesn't have its own scientific and technological community there is no way in which it can ever be an equal partner in the economy of the world.

"It's through the bright people in Africa, the very able people, and allowing those people to thrive within Africa that we can help the continent to turn its fortunes around."

Turok founded AIMS six years ago to bring the continent's most promising postgraduates together into an "intellectual hothouse" environment where, over the course of ten months, they are groomed for research and teaching careers in science as well as for government and industry.

Since its inception AIMS has produced 210 young African graduates from 30 countries across the continent — who have all since gone on to do masters degrees and PhDs.

He says he is now negotiating with the Senegalese government about starting a similar institute there.

He called for "a fraction of a per cent" of African aid to be invested in creating skilled people and establishing AIMS-style high-level institutes across the continent.

"To fully endow one AIMS centre forever costs ten million dollars; to create three of these centres every year would be 30 million dollars — that's 0.1 per cent of the aid budget currently being given to Africa."


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