Africa’s top scientists, policymakers and start-ups have gathered for a landmark conference aimed at stemming the continent’s brain drain and encouraging governments to nurture research in fields from virology to maths.
The organisers of the first Next Einstein Forum (NEF), concluding on Thursday near Senegal’s capital, Dakar, hope to reverse a situation in which Africa’s brightest talent feels compelled to move outside the continent to work at the cutting edge of research – and earn a decent salary.
“There are more African engineers working in the United States than in Africa,” organiser Thierry Zomahoun, chief executive of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, told an audience drawn from more than 100 different countries.
‘Challenging universal truths’
At least 17 Einstein Forum fellows, as well as young researchers from across the continent, shared their innovations with top policymakers, business leaders and academics.
One of them is Senegalese mathematician Mouhamed Moustapha Fall.
“What inspires me about Einstein was his ability to re-question everything,” he told Al Jazeera.
“To try to have another way of looking at things, challenging universal truths.”