As perviously reported, the Planet Earth Institute will focus their annual ScienceAfrica UnConference on the issues of the African youth bulge, a topic that Obama has called an “extraordinary” opportunity.
Last week the Planet Earth Institute announced the final details of the conference and opened registration to the public through Eventbrite. The conference will include high level presentations, expert speakers, workshops and working groups, divided across a single day, running from 9:00 until 6:30.
The day will start with an introduction given by Planet Earth Institute board members, Load Paul Boateng and President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, after which attendees will be work on generating ideas and solutions to the youth bulge challenge. The working groups will be followed by a panel discussion and questions with high profile members of the business, policy and academic worlds.
In the afternoon guests will have the opportunity to attend several workshops. Several workshops will be run simultaneously, giving the participants the chance to choose the workshop that suits their skill set best.
The day will conclude with a roundup of events followed by time for reflection and summaries. The Planet Earth Institute hopes that participants will be able to agree on the next steps to take, including what actionable goals and targets they can all work towards.
The event will be held in London, at the Kensington Town Hall. Entry is free and the programme runs from 9:00 in the morning until 6:30 in the evening. Alongside the Planet Earth Institute, the ScienceAfrica UnConference has received support from the United Nations Environmental Programme, IBM and business magnate and philanthropist, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho.
Speaking on the closing day of a week long event, Future Women Leaders in STEM, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho emphasised once again the importance that scientific education will have in preparing Africa’s youth for the continents upcoming challenges.
The event was organised as part of the Planet Earth Institutes Science and Technology Enrolment Programme. The initiative was set up to encourage African students to study so-called STEM subjects. These are science, technology, engineering and mathematics based subjects. Enrolment in these subject areas is generally across the African continent. To rectify this, the Planet Earth Institute, under the direction of its chairman, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, is working to inspire students and convey to them the importance and potential benefits of pursing a career in the sciences.
The Science and Technology Enrolment Programme has already made headway, holding science day as several schools and organising extra-curricular science based activities for African students. Future Women Leaders in STEM, an intensive four day event, is the most recent event carried out. This initiative focused on inspiring female students in particular. While currently underrepresented in the sector, it is well understood that woman have a crucial role to play in the scientific development of Africa.
Over the course of the four day programme 100 students from schools all over Mauritius came together to learn about science and be inspired by organisations and practitioners from all over the world. The students were taught about some of the greatest, most impactful inventions in history, demonstrated the everyday usefulness and applicability of science and introduced to wildlife and taught how to protect it.
The four day event was well received by participants and organisers alike. After some intensive learning, the week was drawn to a close with a ceremony hosted by Dr Alvaro Sobrinho. After sharing a few words with the crowd, Dr Sobrinho proceed to hand out awards to students who had shown particular aptitude or work especially hard during the workshops and learning activities.
Dr Sobrinho praised the organisation of the event and expressed his firm belief in the importance of the Planet Earth Institute’s Science and Technology Enrolment Programme for inspiring young African students to choose to study STEM subjects.
After nearly two months of deliberations, the Planet Earth Institute announced last week that it has chosen the 10 lucky PhD applicants who will receive funding from the scholarship programme the foundation is running in Mauritius.
Students will receive a generous amount of funding as part of the scholarship, including the payment of all tuition fees at their university, all the associated costs of their research, travel expenses and a generous stipend on which to live. Alongside the financial benefits, students will be able to use the Planet Earth Institutes network of connections to industry in order to secure placements for themselves within successful, leading businesses.
Research findings will be promoted through the Planet Earth Institute networks and students will have the opportunity to present their work at various online and live Planet Earth Institute events. The scholarship aims to create scientific leaders that can support African development and advance scientific progress on the continent, as well as supporting the individuals research objectives.
Dr Alvaro Sobrinho explained that the scholarship is about producing quality of the highest standard and helping young researchers along the path to becoming leaders in the field of science. It is his hope that their research will prompt the emergence of new innovations and technologies that will counter some of the many problems facing Africa.
The advancement of scientific learning and educational capacity in Africa has long been one of Alvaro Sobrinho’s primary goals. He firmly believes that Africa’s future success hinges on the continents ability to adapt to new technologies and become a leader in scientific advancement. It is to this end that he has personally contributed to financing the 10 scholarships that have been awarded by the Planet Earth Institute this week. Other financial contributors include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and African Academy of Science, along with several other international organisations.
After attending the Women’s Forum in Mauritius Dr Alvaro Sobrinho has published an article calling for action to be taken to ensure the participation of girls in science education. He notes the growing awareness of the issues across the continent; African Union leader, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is currently promoting gender parity within the organisation and within educational arenas across the country.
Dr Sobrinho argues convincingly in favour of promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects to female students, “There is a clear need to improve the participation of girls in science education, training and research at all levels on the continent.” Doing so, continues Sobrinho, will ensure that female students have access to highly skilled, well paid jobs in sectors that are developing fast.
On top the personal benefits, gaining a STEM based education will allow women to take an active role in overcoming the continents many social, development and economic problems. “Africa”, says Sobrinho, “is at a crossroads in its development where it desperately needs citizens with high-level scientific and technical skills to address its greatest challenges.”
Yet currently, only one in three scientific researchers are women. To overcome this, Dr Sobrinho has been supporting recent initiatives of the Planet Earth Institute in his capacity as Chairman. In particular, the institution has hosted several events giving girls the chance to learn about science and the career prospects it offers.
In the end, argues Dr Sobrinho, increasing the participation of girls in scientific education is not only about fairness, “but [also] an economic and developmental imperative for our continent”.
From 20th to the 21st June, the Planet Earth Institute teamed up with the Women’s Forum to participate in their first event ever held in Mauritius. The began with an opening speech from Mauritian President Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, who took the opportunity to speak about the dangers of climate change. In particular, Her Excellency drew attention to recent flash floods that have hit the island, causing damage to prime agricultural land.
The topic of Her Excellency’s opening speech was determined by the innovation focus of this year’s Women’s Forum. The Forum acted as a two-day meeting of scientists, policymakers and business representatives, giving them the chance to discuss ideas and solutions relating to the challenge of climate change.
The discussion spanned from biodiversity, to improving access and participation of women in scientific training and education. Guests were invited to take an active role in the discussions, many of whom had highly relevant backgrounds in the sciences, government and advocacy. International speakers introduced topics to the assembled guests, via short, informative presentations.
During the second day of the Forum, Alvaro Sobrinho hosted the CEO Championship luncheon. The event looked specifically at the gender gap in corporate governance in Africa. The day included a discussion with three future female leaders, looking at the challenges they face from day to day.
To find out more about the partnership between the Planet Earth Institute and the Women’s Forum and to learn why they work together you can visit the YouTube Channel of Planet Earth Institute Chairman, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho.
Clearly something is going wrong when 500 million people do not have access to electricity in the 21st Century. Yet this is the situation on the African continent, where 500 million burn wood and kerosene for fuel (cutting down ancient forests as they do so!). Years of investment in Africa, from governments, aid groups and individuals has failed to rectify the situation. Africans continue to cut down trees for fuel.
Philanthropist and businessman, Alvaro Sobrinho abhors the situation and is demanding that action be taken to resolve the problem. However, unlike reformers of the past he is not calling for government intervention, no, he is calling for the private sector to take action, and at once.
Africa has vast energy resources, and not just dirty fossil fuels. With more than 10 terawatts of clear, solar energy just waiting to be absorbed by solar panels,1,300 gigawatts of wind power and 15 gigawatts of thermal energy, Africa is a supremely wealth continent, if only it could make use of the resources available.
Alvaro Sobrinho has suggested that working with business to build Africa’s energy capacity is the best way to proceed. Indeed, it would seem that he is quite right; already private companies and making huge contributions to the development of Africa’s energy needs. In Kenya, Google has made a substantial investment in the Lake Turkana wind farm. The wind farm will cover 40,000 acres of land and supply 310MWs of energy through its 365 wind turbines.
Complimenting the efforts of governments and international funds, the private sector can clearly make a valuable and much needed contribution to securing Africa’s energy independence over the coming years.
Last year, while undertaking a 5 day tour of Africa, President Barak Obama commented on the “extraordinary” opportunity of Africa’s youth bulge. He suggested that Africa “has the potential to be the next center of global economic growth”. Africa’s success will largely depend on how the continent deals with its enormous population of youths. Currently, 43% of the content is aged 15 or under, while some 200 million inhabitants are between 15 and 24. Dealing with the demographic issues is possibly the greatest challenge facing African governments and business leaders today.
In light of the growing importance of the African youth bulge, the Planet Earth Institute will be hosting a high level conference to discuss strategies for overcoming the problem and turning it into the “extraordinary” opportunity Obama believes it can be.
200 delegates have been invited to attend the conference in London. They will be asked to offer their thoughts on the African youth bulge and to work together to develop a concrete strategy for getting more young Africans into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.
The Planet Earth Institute already supports a wide range of programmes designed to support African students studying STEM subjects. These programmes include the funding of a PhD research centre and the funding of over 10,000 PhDs over the course of the next 10 years.
The institute hopes the conference can shed light on more ways to promote and support education programmes that will mitigate the problems brought on by Africa’s demographics.
Dr Alvaro Sobrinho has previously pointed out the necessity of an employment strategy for young Africans. He has personally advocated a focus on scientific education as the most effective way of preparing young Africans for the high-tech, low employment economy they are bound to face in the coming years.
The conference will be held on London on September 15th.
The first phase of the Planet Earth Institute’s ambitious PhD funding programme has now officially begun. As of the 6th May, students and research have been able to submit relevant research proposals to the Planet Earth Institute in the hope of winning a scholarship from the organisation.
Applications will continue to be considered until the end of the month, after which a short time will be given over to reviewing each of the applications to identify the most suitable proposals. To be considered proposals must outline research in one of serval key fields identified by the scholarship criteria, these include issues of energy, sanitation, health and agriculture.
Successful applicants will undertake their research in Africa and the UK. Each successful student will be given full support by the Planet Earth Institute, which will be coordinating the scholarship from its offices in Mauritius.
Alongside access to some of the best and most exclusive universities in Africa and the UK, students will be given access to some of the worlds most dynamic and innovative companies. The Planet Earth Institute coordination team will assist students in securing placements with companies associated with the scholarship.
The objective of the scholarship is to support a new generation of African scientists and researchers who can develop solutions to the many economic and environmental challenges the continent faces.
Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, Chairman of the Planet Earth Institute, described the launch of the PhD scholarship as a “proud” moment for the NGO.
According to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the continent most vulnerable to effects of climate change is Africa. This is despite the fact that Africa, as a region, contributes the least to green house gas emissions. The IPCC explains that Africa’s vulnerability is particularly acute due to several factors that act as impact multipliers. The main factor being the continents weak adaptive capacity, making it especially sensitive to small climatic shifts. On top of this, widespread poverty throughout the continent means Africans and their nation states are ill prepared to deal with change.
According to the World Bank, Africa’s agricultural sector, which has struggled for decades to gain a foothold, is extremely susceptible to climate change. Increasing temperatures are causing droughts, reducing yields and causing animals to die. It is clear that serious challenges lie ahead for Africa. The question remains if and how the continent will overcome the obstacles it will face. One answer to this question come from businessman and philanthropist Alvaro Sobrinho.
Dr. Alvaro Sobrinho has convincingly argues in favour of business led solutions to Africa’s manifold environmental problems. He contends that only business has the technological and financial capacity to meet the challenge of climate change head on.
In regards to agriculture, Sobrinho believes that, “Agribusiness companies can help strengthen the climate resilience of agricultural land and farming communities by adopting agroecological approaches.” In turn, business will gain access to a market in Africa’s smallholder farmers, who comprise some 80% of continents food producers. The arrangement, Alvaro insists, can be mutually beneficial.
He goes on to express the view that fighting climate change can be about business and development. He cites Africa’s enormous capacity for producing clean renewable energy as a way of pointing to the business and climate change potential of the continent.
The primary focus of the international NGO the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) is the scientific advancement of Africa. The NGO has attempted to improve Africa’s position in the sciences by funding and organising a variety of education initiatives including PhD programmes, building research institutions and encouraging young African students to choose to study science.
The NGO’s latest effort to improve the state of science and technology in Africa is a conference exploring the potential for space based technologies to promote growth and development on the continent. The aim of the conference is to “explore and address the many challenges, opportunities and controversies associated with an African space strategy.”
The conference will ask pertinent questions regarding the desirability of a space strategy for Africa, particularly given the high levels of poverty present throughout the continent.
The event is being hosted by the PEI in association with Satellite Applications Catapult and will be attended by the PEI and its colleagues from the world of business, education and government. The event will be the first in a series of high profile, invitation only events focused on the theme of space and satellite applications.
After organising a Roundtable on Africa’s space strategy at the House of Lords in London, the event is the next step in the PEI’s attempt to understand Africa’s place in relation to space.
PEI Chairman, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho is a keen advocate of using technology to advance African development. He will no doubt welcome the announcement of this series of conferences focused on space technology.