Dr. Ochwangi features in an article on Africa's next generation Best Young Scientists
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 African students at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings: At the Africa Outreach breakfast with Nobel Laureate Peter Agre Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. Dr. Ochwangi on the right.

Every year, the best young talents in sciences gather in Lindau, Germany, to meet with Nobel Laureates as well as their peers. 600 students and post-docs are chosen in a multistage selection process from all around the world for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. As participation from Africa was lagging behind for many years, the Africa Outreach Initiative under the patronage of former German Federal President Horst Köhler was started in 2015. Supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the initiative helped to bring more than 150 excellent young African scientists to Lindau. In 2019, South Africa will be hosting the meeting‘s “International Day“ – a highlight of Africa‘s presence at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

With this in mind, we asked several Lindau Alumni as well as partners of this initiative about their thoughts on the current status of scientific excellence in Africa, what progress has been made, and what still needs to change.

A decade of progress

While the situation greatly varies among African countries, the last decade has seen a considerable growth of scientific agencies, programmes, networks and conferences, and certainly an improvement of the situation.

To no one’s surprise, South Africa is spearheading this development with it’s National Research Foundation, established almost 20 years ago. Current programmes such as the South African Research Chairs Initiative and the Centres of Excellence funding scheme contribute to keeping excellent scientists in Africa, says Roseanne Diab, Executive Officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). But she also highlights various cross country-initiatives: “The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is a pan-African network of centres of excellence for postgraduate education, research, and outreach in mathematical sciences established in 2003. This was followed more recently by the AIMS Next Einstein Initiative, the goal of which is to build fifteen centres of excellence across Africa by 2023.”

Most progress has been made in the area of health; all the more important as a bad public health situation has countless negative effects on people, economies and countries – and on science.

For example, between 2000 and 2015, the number of malaria deaths has decreased from an approximated 839,000 to 438,000: a decline by 48%. 90% of malaria infections occur in African countries. SDG 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages”.