Monday, 28 November 2016

Raise Public Understanding of Science in Africa



As you may know, I have been involved with the Next Einstein Forum and have been working to help promote science in Africa and inspire the next generation of African scientists and innovators. For the past few weeks, I and colleague Ambassadors from other African countries have been leading a crowdfunding campaign on Fiat Physica. We are inviting you to join us in our efforts to increase public understanding of science to advance development in Africa. 

We feel that low public interest in science is slowing down Africa's development. While some scientists are able to undertake useful research on the continent, public skepticism makes it difficult for their discoveries to move from the lab to the community. Our youth stand at a disadvantage if they are not empowered with adequate skills and knowledge to reverse the status quo.

With our campaign, we want to draw attention to scientific advances in our countries by creating platforms through which scientists engage with the public.Our goal is to demystify science so that it becomes a bigger part of the cultural fibre of African societies.

We need YOU to join us in our effort by raising $8650 to help support the Public Understanding of Science for Development (#Sci4D) project.

Help us to connect Africa's scientists to the community and advance progress on the continent. Support us as we work toward changing mindsets and building a community of public engagement with science. Thank you!

Please take a minute to check out the full suite of NEF Ambassadors crowdfunding campaigns.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Want to Shape the Future? Take the Global Shapers Annual Survey 2016

Challenges faced by young people across the world are both local and global in nature. In my country, Ghana, some of the key issues consistently raised through discussions on online and offline youth platforms such as BarCamp include unemployment, corruption, and frequent power cuts (dubbed ‘dumsor’ in local parlance). Less obvious but equally pressing problems include climate change, gender inequality, and limited access to higher education. These challenges are often interlinked and have far-reaching impacts. Therefore, they need to be properly analysed to pave way for the design of appropriate solutions to address them. The youth voice cannot be missing in the discourse as they represent a significant proportion of global population and offer new ideas and visions on the way forward.

For example, frequent power cuts have been frustrating citizens and hampering national development in Ghana for the better part of the last decade-and-half. Everyone has been affected in one way or the other - from intrepid students working hard on school assignments in the evenings to start-up founders or corporate bosses looking to maximise industrial productivity. For young people, this situation has consequences for number of new jobs created in a given period. Dumsor has become a noxious scourge on national life, and many have spoken strongly on government’s inability to solve the problem on civic platforms. Interestingly, it is not just a Ghanaian problem but a regional one. Many countries throughout Africa, including South Africa and Nigeria, face frequent power cuts unlike countries of the global North. 

The Global Shapers Community, in ensuring that young people contribute to shaping the world, is collecting youth voices through its second Annual Survey. The survey gives a global overview of young people’s perspectives on the state of the world, and how they would like to contribute to improving it. It is open it to all young people between 18 and 35 years everywhere in the world. By taking this survey, you would be helping to compose a more accurate picture of priority issues for young people at global, regional, and national levels. Global Shapers would be creating and sharing a report based on the survey to government, business, and third sector leaders the world over. Global youth surveys like the Global Shapers Survey could be complemented by local studies looking at specific contextual issues into more detail. 

Global and local pictures of the youth experience will go a long way to inform relevant interventions to deliver results for youth. This would require cross-sector collaborations. A multi-faceted approach, looking at empowering young researchers and innovators with relevant skills in renewable energy for example, could help untangle the challenges in educational opportunities, energy access, and job security earlier outlined. However, any specific programme developed would rely on insights from sources such as the Global Shapers Annual Survey. By sparing 10 to 15 minutes of your time to take the Global Shapers Annual Survey 2016, you would be contributing to promoting the welfare of young people in your community, country, region, and the world at large. Join me in this important journey of change.

Monday, 21 March 2016

NEF Ambassadors Share on Expectations and Experiences - #NEF2016

The Next Einstein Forum, hosted by Senegal in Dakar, brought together various stakeholders including presidents, scientists,technologists, policymakers, entrepreneurs and activists to deliberate on the future of African science and how it can be applied to benefit society. During the global gathering held from 8th to 10th March, some NEF ambassadors took time to share on their expectations and experiences. Find out more in the video below.


Also, fellow ambassador Yassine Harzallah from Tunisia made a brilliant video that captured how the ambassadors interacted with the event. His video evoked the sense of friendship, cooperation, happiness and positivity that pervaded the NEF ambience. 




We look forward to support the work of NEF in order to raise the profile of African science and encourage more young Africans to enter into the sciences. We are all keen to work with the fellows, volunteers, and mentors within the NEF network, as well as colleagues in our own countries and all over the world, to realise the above objectives.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

NEF Chronicles: Arrival in Dakar, Senegal

Last time, I blogged about the Next Einstein Forum and it's drive to promote STEM in Africa. One of the most important aspects of the initiative is the Ambassador programme, which I happen to be part of. Yesterday, I arrived in Dakar, the capital of Senegal yesterday, to begin my NEF experience. The main event, dubbed Global Gathering, is slated for 8th to 10th March 2016. This blog summarises my NEF experience so far.

Journey to Dakar
I got to Kotoka International Airport in Accra at around 8:40 am, checked in and took a one hour flight to Abidjan. From Abidjan I transferred to another flight to Dakar which lasted 2 hours 45 minutes. I was so amazed by the duration of the journey; it made me realise that West Africa was much bigger than I imagined. Immigration and security procedures at all airports were pretty smooth and efficient. NEF volunteers were on hand to wish all arrivals a warm welcome to Senegal, promising us a time of our lives. We were then transported to our hotels by bus. In the bus to the hotel I met my room mate from Guinea Bissau. Our interactions revealed why we were paired together: we have international development, education, and civic participation in common. Throughout the ride I couldn't help but notice how Dakar was different from Ghana's capital Accra: there was little traffic, hardly any street vendors, cleaner streets, and the buildings had this stylistic essence.

Orientation/briefing with NEF
After checking in to the hotel and getting acquainted with our room, we stepped out to explore our surroundings. In the hotel lobby, we met the NEF Ambassador from Gambia who is also one of the cluster leaders. He used his Wolof skills to help navigate our way into town to get some food. Back from our outing, we had a brief meeting with NEF content lead Janny who oriented us on activities lined up for ambassadors and provided us with all we need for a successful stay in Senegal. I had a taste of Senegalese bissap a.k.a sobolo and it was good!
Day 1 in Senegal ended really well. I already like the city of Dakar. The vibe around the NEF is infectious, and I'm bracing myself for an experience of a lifetime. On y vas!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Promoting African Science Through the Next Einstein Forum - #NEF2016

I am delighted to be named among the first cohort of Next Einstein Forum Science Ambassadors. According to NEF.org, "the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) is a platform that brings together leading thinkers in science, policy, industry and civil society in Africa to leverage science to solve global challenges." Believing that the next Einstein will be African, NEF works to make Africa a global hub for science and technology. It is an initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) and the Robert Bosch Stiftung.
The Ambassadors scheme aims "to build a targeted team of 54 young Ambassadors, one from each African country, to participate in the NEF Global Gathering 2016, champion African science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM] globally and become part of the growing NEF community."
 As a NEF Ambassador, I would among other things:
  1. Represent Ghana at the NEF Global Gathering event in Dakar, Senegal, the first of its kind in Africa. We would celebrate African science, including the work of the elite NEF Fellows, and showcase how to apply scientific knowledge to sustainable development in Africa. 
  2. Promote Ghanaian STEM stories, research, and innovations to the global audience. For example, my inaugural post on NEF.org highlighted pressing environmental issues in Ghana, and how various actors are working to resolve the challenges. In the future, I plan to share more on social innovation projects and research of the STEM community in Ghana
  3. Promote the Next Einstein Forum's work in Ghana and contribute to the growth of an all-inclusive community for science, technology, and development in Africa. I plan to share NEF news with my online networks, such as Global Lab Ghana, join STEM projects, and participate in relevant events and conferences here in Ghana
The NEF fellows embody African scientific excellence, inspiring the next generation of African scientists
Check out some of the ideas I shared during the application round in the YouTube video below:



In addition to the above, my hope is to network effectively with colleague ambassadors, the NEF Fellows, and other participants, creating opportunities for future collaborations. I am truly excited to be part of this pan-African initiative. Find out more about the awesome current NEF Ambassadors here and here.

What issues would you suggest to be on top of NEF's agenda? Are there any researchers or innovators whose work excite you that you think could use some visibility? I would be keen to hear your ideas as to how best to represent Ghana and Africa to the global audience. Follow the conversation via @NextEinsteinFor and @gamelmag on Twitter. Also get the latest updates via #NEF2016 and #AfricasEinsteins on social media.