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Hazel Sive - African technology and innovation leaders to visit MIT

Center for International Studies
September 22, 2014

High-ranking African leaders in science, technology, and innovation will gather at MIT on Sept. 23 and 24 to explore areas for mutual cooperation. The visit is a reflection of the rising interest among African countries in putting science and technology at the center of their development process.

As part of their visit, the African leaders will participate in a Starr Forum event, “Africa Rebooted: Science, Technology, and Innovation in Development.” This public event will be hosted by the Center for International Studies and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning on Wednesday, Sept. 24, from 3-4:30 p.m., at the Whitehead Institute’s McGovern Auditorium (9 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, Mass.).

MIT Vice President Claude Canizares and Professor Hazel Sive, coordinator of the MIT-Africa Program (at MISTI), will offer introductory remarks. Speakers will include: Mukhisa Kituyi, secretary-general of the United National Conference on Trade and Development; Professor Aderemi Kuku, president of the African Academy of Sciences; and Beatrice Khamati-Njenga, division head of the Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology at the African Union Commission. Professor Calestous Juma, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Professor at MIT, will moderate the event.

The Starr Forum is organized in collaboration with the Institute-wide MIT Africa Interest Group, which will host a kick-off event on September 23, from 5-7 p.m.

In June 2014, African presidents adopted a 10-year Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024). The strategy is part of the long-term Agenda 2063, which outlines the need to “consolidate African initiatives and strategies on accelerated human capital development, science and technology and innovation.”

Agenda 2063 calls on Africa to “lead the new industrial revolution by building a skilled workforce, capitalizing on the digital revolution and global knowledge.” In pursuing this vision, the African Union emphasizes the importance of building up its universities as centers of excellence.

To help implement STISA-2024, African countries are exploring a variety of partnerships with leading science and technology universities around the world. According to Juma, the aim of the MIT visit is to explore areas of potential cooperation between MIT and African countries in areas of science, technology, and innovation.

“This is a new age of science and technology diplomacy where universities such as MIT will play a leading role in shaping alternative patterns of international cooperation,” Juma says.

The visit will allow members of the MIT community to learn more about emerging trends in Africa, and will give visiting African officials the opportunity to familiarize themselves with MIT. The visit will bring together high-ranking officials from government, industry, and academia for activities that include meeting with faculty and senior leadership of MIT to learn about the Institute's activities; interacting with students and fellows to gain an understanding of their activities; and participating in a symposium to help raise awareness on the potential for international cooperation.