BY PSCU and MWAKERA MWAJEFA
Kenya will host the third Next Einstein Forum (NEF), the largest African scientific conference, in March next year.
The conference, an initiative of Africa Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), will gather over 2,500 delegates including four Nobel Laureates in Nairobi to chart the future of science and research in the continent.
The announcement was made on June 13, 2019 at State House when President Uhuru Kenyatta met the chief executive officer of AIMS Thierry Zomahoun in Nairobi.
The CEO informed the President that Kenya was chosen because of its robust innovation ecosystem and strong academia-industry linkages.
NEF is inspired by the belief that the next Albert Einstein, the great German physicist who developed the theory of relativity, will be from the African continent.
It is a network of centres of excellence in science and research structured to enable talented African young scientists to become innovators thereby driving the continent’s scientific, educational and economic self-sufficiency.
Mr Kenyatta President welcomed the conference saying it comes at an opportune time when Kenya has embarked on an aggressive programme of enhancing the uptake of science at all levels of education, through the rollout of Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme.
The third NEF will therefore provide a platform for Kenya to showcase its ambitious science and innovation programmes as well as draws the world’s attention to the country’s immense potential as investment destination in science and technology.
The biannual conference which brings together leading scientists, policy makers, business leaders, journalists, civil society leaders, entrepreneurs and scientists was first held in Dakar, Senegal in 2016 while the second edition was hosted by President Paul Kagame in Kigali, Rwanda in March 2018.
On the sidelines of the main conference, Kenya will hold special events such as the NEF Innovation Salon where start-ups from across the world will showcase their products, an African gender summit and an arts and science festival for all ages.
In another function a day before, the Catholic Church assured President Kenyatta that it fully supports the ongoing crackdown against corruption.
Archbishop Hubertus Van Megen, the incoming representative of His Holiness Pope Francis in Kenya, said the church stands with Kenya in efforts to end corruption and related economic crimes.
The cleric was among eight envoys who presented their credentials to the President at State House on June 12.
Archbishop Megen said the Catholic Church also stands with the people of Kenya in the commitment to a genuine dialogue between faiths.
“It is only through dialogue, fair distribution of wealth, and a just and transparent society based on respect of the dignity of every man and woman, that lasting peace can be achieved,” said the incoming Apostolic Nuncio.
Ambassadors Alex Chua (the Republic of the Philippines), Jesús Agustín Manzanilla Puppo (Venezuela), Fionnuala Quinlan (Ireland) and Ali Halabi (Lebanon) also presented their credentials to President Kenyatta.
Others were Ambassadors Zurab Dvalishvili of Georgia, Dr Alejandro Garofali Acosta of Uruguay and High Commissioner Angella Comfort of Jamaica. The Lebanese, Uruguay, Georgian and Jamaican are non-resident envoys accredited to Kenya.
Receiving the credentials, Mr Kenyatta said he looked forward to working closely with them to boost relations between Kenya and their respective countries.
“Welcome to Kenya and feel at home. I look forward to working with you to strengthen the cooperation and bilateral relations for the benefit of the people of our countries,” he told the diplomats.
Irish ambassador Quinlan said her country was keen on supporting the Kenya Government’s Big 4 agenda by sharing its experience in science and technology.
“By sharing our experience of investing in science and technology in order to create jobs and develop the skills and expertise of young people in Kenya, I hope Ireland can support your important work to achieve the Government’s Big 4 Agenda,” Ambassador Quinlan told the President.
On his part, Ambassador Chua of the Republic of the Philippines expressed hope that during his tour of duty in Kenya, he will succeed in deepening bilateral relations between his country and Kenya through trade and enhanced people-to-people interactions.
He said while the Republic of the Philippines and Kenya are far apart geographically, the two countries share identical commitments to democracy, social justice, development and progress.