Planet Earth Institute Hosts Visual Essay

Aimed at international organisations, national governments and education institutions, the Planet Earth Institute visual essay has been created in cooperation with The Engineering Lab Africa (The E-Lab) to showcase STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education at its best.

From its base in Nairobi, Kenya, the E-Lab runs numerous education programmes aimed at primary and secondary school children across Africa. Students, aged between 6-18 participate in a host of activities aimed at improving their knowledge of STEM in preparation for entering an industrialised, knowledge based economy when they graduate.

A report by the Planet Earth Institute on the visual essay suggests, “Africa has the potential to transform into a high-tech industrialised economy in the next 10 – 15 years”. But, the report continues, a lot of groundwork must be done before this prediction can be fully realised. It is important, argues the report, that Africa creates an environment that will encourage the huge number of young people on the continent to become innovative, creative and technologically equipped.

The E-Lab offers students the chance to learning programming, engage with technology in a practical way, and develop their critical thinking, communication skills, learn to collaborate with others and express creativity. The E-Lab believes these attributes are essential in a 21st context. It is best, the E-Lab continues, to introduce children to this activities from a young age when they are more likely to express interest and continue with similar activities into the future.

The Planet Earth Institute, led by Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, has been pushing STEM education in Africa as a solution to the continents development and economic challenges.

Sustainable Development Depends on Responsible Business

After attending the World Economic Forum last month, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, chairman of African NGO, the Planet Earth Institute, has published his views on how to achieve sustainable development in Africa. Inspired by Klaus Schwab, Dr Sobrinho believes world leaders should listen to the frustration being expressed by the world’s populace and realise that not everybody has benefited from economic progress. To ensure they do, leaders must be responsible and responsive to the needs of the people, argues Alvaro Sobrinho.

Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to fall in the coming years, slowing the rate of progress in the region. 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are still live without access to electricity and unemployment rates are through the roof. To ensure development in Africa, these issues must be dealt with, argues philanthropist and banker, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho.

Business, believes Dr Sobrinho, is the answer. “As the biggest source of job creation and a recognised engine of growth”, continues Sobrinho, business is best placed to provide solutions to the numerous development challenges Africa faces. Through the use of technology and innovation, business can provide employment and resolve issues of resource access and availability. As Dr Sobrinho notes, there are already many companies working to overcome the present challenges, including businesses bringing renewable energy into Africa homes.

Secondly, business can provide financing for further economic development, argues Dr Sobrinho. Start-up companies in Africa suffer from a lack of investment, finding it difficult to find adequate financing. Private sector finance could, and is, finding innovative ways to lend to promising start-ups without requiring traditional guarantees, such as credit rating.

Finally, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho returns to a familiar topic, advocating support for universities to ensure the skilled workers African businesses need are available. “Businesses”, says Sobrinho, “could also assist cash-strapped local universities”.

Only by offering responsible and responsive leadership will Africa achieve sustainable development; Dr Alvaro Sobrinho calls on business to play its part in leading Africa into a sustainable future.

Planet Earth Institute Deputy Calls for End to Brain Drain

In a publication of the World Economic Forum, President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, deputy chair of the Planet Earth Institute, has called for an end to the African brain drain. The continent, she argues, is in desperate need of ‘talented researchers’ to solve its numerous problems. She hopes that by reversing the brain drain ‘Africa’s problems can be solved by Africa’s people.’

As the first woman to be elected president of Mauritius, and as a respected biodiversity scientist, President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim has seen first had the benefits of an excellent education. She attended the University of Surrey, UK, from which she graduated with a BSc in chemistry. After obtaining a PhD in organic chemistry at the prestigious University of Exeter, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim began teaching at the University of Mauritius. She has published numerous academic works and continues to express a keen interest in science.

Since 2016, HE Ameenah Gurib-Fakim has served as deputy chair and trustee of the Planet Earth Institute, an African NGO founded by Angolan philanthropist and investment banker, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, with the objective of promoting science in Africa. The Institute has launched an assortment of projects and initiatives aimed at furthering the scientific advancement of Africa.

While in attendance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Planet Earth deputy chair Ameenah Gurib-Fakim announced a new project led by the Institute that focuses on raising capital for scientific research in Africa. After announcing the project at the conference, President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim elaborated on the need for science focused funding, calling for an STI (science, technology and innovation) fund. Only by providing adequate funding and opportunities in Africa, argues Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, can the brain drain be prevented.

Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, chair of the Planet Earth Institute, has expressed the same opinion many times while arguing in favour of increased spending on science. He believes that talented scientists must be given a reason to remain in Africa, chiefly in the form of funding support from national government, international donors and private businesses.

President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim to Give Speech at Davos

HE Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Madame President of Mauritius, trustee of the Planet Earth Institute and close friend of Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, Chairman of the Planet Earth Institute, will give a key note speech at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on the 20th January 2017.

Every year the World Economic Forum hosts world leaders, the foremost figures of the international business world, renowned academics and the world’s best economists. Together they discuss the state of the global economy, offer their expert insights and press their agenda for a better, more prosperous future. This year will be the 47th anniversary of the event, which has garnered increasing attention in recent years, particularly in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis when people were looking for new leadership in the international economy.

HE Ameenah Gurib-Fakim will take part in an expert panel focusing on the Global Science Outlook, alongside a collection of well-respected individuals, including Marc Casper and Fabiola Gianotti. Other speakers at this years event include Arianna Huffington, John Kerry, Paul Kagame, Christine Lagarde, Teresa May, Mark Rutte and philanthropist pop star, Shakira.

During her speech President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim will announce the launch of a new Planet Earth Institute project, a call to action for international organisations, business and African governments to focus R&D (research and development) on scientific research in Africa. In particular, the programme aims to increase R&D funding for research that looks at the essential areas of water, energy, food and health. The programme is funded by a grant award to the Planet Earth Institute by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The new programme is part of the Planet Earth Institute’s plan, under the guidance of chairman and founder Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, to advance the scientific capacity of Africa.

A Good Year for Alvaro Sobrinho’s Planet Earth Institute

The Planet Earth Institute, the African charity led by philanthropist and international banker Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, has declared “notable successes” in 2016 in its work on African development. In an end of year report the charity said their efforts to “advocate for high-quality and industry-relevant science in Africa” continued throughout the year, working with partners to ensure their campaign was effectively delivered.

In particular, the Planet Earth Institute launched two new programmes delivering PhD training to African scholars and funding important research in key development areas. The H.E. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim PhD Scholarship Programme has handed out its first wave of funding to exceptional African graduates, ensuring they can complete a high-level PhD programme with industry experience included.

The charity received support from prominent organisations including the world-renowned Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Alongside support from the Foundation, the Planet Earth Institute worked alongside the African Academy of Sciences to deliver its development programmes.

The organisation achieved great success launching the Science and Technology Enrolment Programme (STEP), an education initiative aimed at school students in Mauritius. The programme sought to promote the value to science to the students in the hope they would enrol in science classes in the future. The programme was well received, leading the organisation to launch STEP in Angola earlier this month. STEP Angola will continue throughout 2017, bringing its programme to more than 1500 students. Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, the Angolan born Chairman of the Institute said he was “delighted” that he and the institute were able to extended the programme to his home country.

The Planet Earth Institute will be looking ahead to 2017, with plans to expand its efforts to promote science across Africa.

STEP Study Day in Angola

Having received high praise for its work in Mauritius, the Plane Earth Institute (PEI) has decided to roll out its Science, Technology Enrolment Programme (STEP) in Angola, birthplace of (PEI) Chairman, Dr Alvaro Sobrino. The first STEP study day in Angola took place this week and was well received by both student and teachers.

The PEI launched STEP in response to the dire rate of enrolment for science focused subjects at schools across Africa. The programme focuses on young students from the age of 12 to 16. It hope to inspire students to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. Thus far, the project has organised more than 7 events in Mauritius, including a tour of a marine exploration vessel and, most recently, a space science focused study day.

The PEI believes that equipping African students with STEM centered skills and knowledge is essential for the future development of the continent and the individual prosperity of African graduates. The African economy is becoming increasingly technological and will require a new generation of scientific leaders to steer and guide it. With millions of young Africans expected to join the labor force over the next 10 years, equipping the youth with scientific educations will be essential to their success on the labor market. The era of low-skilled, low-paid jobs in Africa is on the way out, a new age of high-tech development, led by highly educated individuals is about to begin.

The STEP study day in Angola is the first of many such day that have already been planned for the coming year. The PEI hopes to reach more than 1500 Angolan students with the programme, inspiring them and demonstrating the importance of science to their lives. The programme will also include a segment focused on improving the language skills of participants. During the study day this week, all classes were given in English with translation. The PEI hopes that this will improve the chances that students will learn English, the primary language needed to succeed in a globalized world.

Northfields Hosts Space Science Educational Day

Northfields International school in Mauritius recently hosted a space science education day as part of the Planet Earth Institute’s Science Technology Enrolment Programme (STEP). 50 students aged 13-14 attended the interactive day of learning, which involved presentations, lectures, hands-on learning activities, discussions and more.

The day started with a keynote speech from Her Excellency Madame President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the Vice-Chair of the Planet Earth Institute. When asked about the value the study day will bring, Her Excellency responded, “If sustainable development is to be a reality in Mauritius, it is vital that we inspire our future generations to study the sciences”.

Inspiration was not far away, as BBC TV presenter and space scientist Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock was next to take to the stage. Insightful, intelligent and an inspiring presence, Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock instantly endeared herself to the students. Beginning with a presentation about the wonders of the solar system, she led the students on an enthralling journey though space science, finishing with an explanation of its relevance to their everyday lives.

The attention to space science has become a key theme for the Planet Earth Institute, which recently hosted a conference in London on the topic. The African Union has also signalled its intent to fund space science research as part of its African development strategy. It has become broadly recognised that sustainable development requires science technologies, particularly satellites.

Chairman of the Planet Earth Institute, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho has been a vocal advocate of improving African space capacities. The fourth industrial revolution, Sobrinho has explained, will be based on high-tech industry, which will require the use of space technologies. He has argued that space science has the potential to “transform” the continent.

STEP into Space, as the interactive learning day was called, was the latest in a series of STEP days held in Mauritius. Over 500 students have had the privilege of attending a STEP study day, with more days planned for 2017.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Pledges Support for Alvaro Sobrinho’s Charity

African charity, the Planet Earth Institute, led by international philanthropist Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, has received substantial financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for its new campaign. The Planet Earth Institute hopes to use the grant to mobilise and bring together local, national and pan-continental efforts to fund research and development in Africa.

The Planet Earth Institute has spent the last few years promoting the scientific advancement of Africa. The organisation has already funded dozens of PhD’s across the continent and plans to fund thousands more over the coming years. On top of this, the Planet Earth Institute has raised money for a higher education research centre and recently launched a pioneering initiative to bring science and scientific careers to the attention on secondary school students in Mauritius and Angola.

Chairman of Institute, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho has worked tirelessly to promote science education on continent, through his work with the Planet Earth Institute and through his own private investments and as an advocate speaking at events and writing for high-profile publications. Dr Sobrinho is convinced of Africa’s need for better and more accessible science education if the continent is going to continue to thrive in the 21st Century.

Writing for a news publication several months ago, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho explained the changing nature of the economic impetus driving Africa. Low-skilled jobs, he noted, will become less and less common as the economy shifts towards high-tech, science based production, utilising the latest in robots technology. If young Africans are to find a place in this economy, Dr Sobrinho believes they will need an education based on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.

With the funding from the Gates Foundation, the Planet Earth Institute will be capable of embarking on a campaign to convince governments and private capital to invest in Africa’s future, by directing their capital towards invest in research and development. In particular, it is likely that the Planet Earth Institute will call for greater investment in high-level STEM education, in order to create a new generation of graduates, skilled in the science, who can lead Africa into an era of growth and prosperity based on high-tech industry.

Science and Technology Enrolment Programme arrives in Angola

The Planet Earth Institute’s Science and Technology Enrolment Programme is due to begin in Angola in December. After a successful start in Mauritius, the Science and Technology Enrolment Programme is now being brought to other African nations, starting with Angola, the birthplace of Alvaro Sobrinho, the Planet Earth Institute’s Chairman.

Science and Technology Enrolment Programme, STEP for short, focuses on promoting science and technology to young African students. The objective of the programme is rectify the poor enrolment rates for science and mathematics in African schools, which far below desirable averages.

Given the importance of science and technology in overcoming development challenges and building a sustainable economy, the Planet Earth Institute views increasing enrolment in related subjects as an essential part of the development agenda. The Planet Earth Institute hopes to demonstrate the usefulness and applicability of science by giving them hands on experience and the chance to meet professionals.

In Mauritius, where STEP began, students have visited an ocean explorer vessel, witnessed live science demonstrations and had the chance to speak with experts from a variety of fields. By all accounts, students have come away feeling positive and enthusiastic about science and its potential.

Alongside launching STEP in Angola, the Planet Earth Institute recently announced that it would be funding a selection of PhD programmes in the country. This PhD scholarships are part of an ongoing funding drive led by the Planet Earth Institute, which aims to provide money for 10,000 PhDs over the coming decade.

From the 14th to the 15th December, STEP will host an event in Angola with help from a local development charity. Over the course of this and several more events, the organisations hope to reach some 1500 students, offering them education, enthusiasm and skills.

7 Steps to Improving African Education

Sarah Hambly from the Planet Earth Institute has presented a detailed, 7-step plan for improving the quality of African education. The Planet Earth Institute is led by Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, with a mission to achieve the scientific advancement of Africa. A central tenet of the institutes agenda is the improvement of education, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, a group of subjects commonly referred to as STEM.

In a convincing article, Hambly describes the 7 ways education must be improved in Africa. Starting with concrete proposals such as creating centres of excellence, and including more abstract goals, like being willing to take more risks. She points out that while there is nearly 1 billion people in Africa the continent can boast only 2000 higher-education institutions.

Building centres of excellence, argues Hambly, would be an enlightened first step towards overcoming the institutional and resource shortages. Funding could be pooled and focused on a single institution that would provide leadership to other schools. The centre of excellence could demonstrate best practises and conduct essential research.

Combining centres of excellence with an improvement in digital technology could ensure access to education is not hampered. Providing excellent online learning opportunities would open education up to millions more Africans. Linking these students with Africa’s budding tech hubs would help them to further integrate and adapt to an increasingly tech based economy.

Implementing these improvements while also measuring performance, tailoring courses to the needs of labour markets and increasing links with the private sector, will ensure that newly educated Africans are ready to enter the job market. Linking education to job creation, argues Hambly, is essential.

Finally, Hambly urges African educators to take risks. To push the boundaries of what is possible within education by taking a chance and investing in what Africa needs. She claims that with the right government support and investment “Africa’s increasing youth can continue to innovate their way into a sustainable, science-led and bright tomorrow.”