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Maths And Science Are The Keys To Unlocking Africa’s Potential

Feb 26, 2016

Angelina Lutambi was born into a peasant family in Tanzania’s Dodoma region, where HIV/AIDS has decimated much of the population. Her future could easily have been bleak – but Angelina had a keen aptitude for maths. She financed her own schooling by selling cold drinks with her siblings and was awarded a grant to study at the University of Dar Es Salaam.

In 2004 she went to the South African centre of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS). Since then, Angelina has obtained her PhD in epidemiology from the University of Basel in Switzerland. Today Angelina is a senior research scientist at the Ifakara Health Institute in her native Tanzania. There, she devises mathematical, statistical and computational models to inform and advise public health decisions on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other major diseases.

Students from the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences outside the organization’s building in Cape Town, South Africa.

AIMS/Yasmin Hankel

In March 2016, more than 500 bright scientific minds and international leaders will gather in Senegal for the inaugural Next Einstein Forum, organised by AIMS. The three-day summit will highlight emerging scientific and technical talent in Africa and elsewhere, and fuel collaboration which puts this talent to work in the cause of human development.

“Africa has many other deep-rooted problems, including poverty, corruption and war. Could these also be tackled through the sort of work that Angelina and her colleagues are doing? Could Africa’s problems be solved through mathematical science?”

The summit’s theme is “Connecting Science to Humanity”. It will be an occasion for the most enlightened African and international scientists and leaders to strengthen their commitment to helping young people help Africa.

The problems facing Africa are complex and there are no easy answers. But one of the lessons we’ve learned in science is that the hardest problems are the ones that eventually yield the most important – and the most wonderful – solutions.

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