PhD Programme to Promote Science, Technology and Innovation Launched

GIS 06 May 2016: A pilot PhD Programme of 10 scholarships, aiming to provide direct support to Mauritian scientists/researchers as part of the effort to promote science, technology and innovation as key drivers of growth and development, was launched today at the State House, Le Reduit.

During a Press Conference the President of the Republic, Dr Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, elaborated on the PhD Programme, which is being jointly financed by the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Initiative in partnership with the African Academy of Sciences (AAS).

The right signal is being sent out, said President Gurib-Fakim via the PhD Programme, that science matters for the African continent, as well as capacity building and adding value to talents. Speaking about the colonial history of the continent, she observed that even if most African countries have 50 plus years of independence not enough emphasis has been put on science, technology, engineering and mathematics and yet this is what is important to address the development needs of the continent.

According to the President, many countries have not been able to invest in the sciences which means that the percentage of investment is still under 1% of the GDP across the continent. Since there has not been enough investment, it means that the best talents from Africa have systematically left the continent so we have seen a lot of brain drain and countries have not created an enabling environment to retain this competence, said Dr Gurib-Fakim.

The President emphasised that the continent now needs to have talents to address developmental needs in research, technology and innovation to face the challenges of climate change and food security. The ten scholarships being offered will address the immediate needs of the continent and this again a very important message because we are addressing our needs, she added.

The pilot PhD Programme

The initial grants during the pilot phase in 2016 will be open only to applicants from Mauritius and this can be either a Mauritian citizen or a citizen from an African nation currently residing in Mauritius. Moreover, the Programme is aiming to expand across Africa to award 10 000 PhD Scholarships in the coming decade. The objective is to help equip Africa with the critical mass of scientific leaders it needs to become a continent of knowledge-based and sustainable economies.

The areas of research eligible for the pilot PhD Programme are those that will have to underpin the sustainable development of Mauritius and Africa and boost the local capacity of scientists to answer the great challenges ahead for the continent. Research areas of focus are: water and sanitation, energy, agri-business, health and blue-sky research.

The programme will be offered by the PEI and the AAS with the assistance of private sector partners. This will help ensure that research is industrially relevant and that researchers develop hands-on experience to ensure employability.

The PEI

It is recalled that the PEI, an international NGO and charity working for the ‘scientific independence of Africa’, was officially launched in Mauritius on 23 November 2015. The President of the Republic of Mauritius has been appointed Vice-Chairperson and Trustee of the Institute.

SOURCE: Government of Mauritius