Ten years of German Research Chairs for Mathematics in Africa

Congratulations on the anniversary at the Siyakhula Festival in South Africa, amongst others, from Sabine Döring, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

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Fünf Männer sitzen auf Sessen auf einer Bühne und unterhalten sich. Einige lachen. Daneben steht ein Mann hinter einem Rednerpult.
The research chair holders in dialogue
Eine blonde und eine schwarzhaarige Frau sitzen nebeneinander auf einer Bühne auf Sesseln und lachen sich an.
Marcia Socikwa, Deputy Director-General, Department of Higher Education and Training with Sabine Döring, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Ein Mann steht hinter einem Rednerpult, neben ihm läuft eine PowerPoint-Präsentation auf einer Leinwand
Neil Turok, founder of the first African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in South Africa
Saturn-ähnliches Dekortationsbild


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From 16 to 22 March, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in South Africa celebrated its 20th anniversary. Minister of State Sabine Döring opened the “German Research Days” – two of the festival days dedicated to the German Research Chairs at AIMS. Blade Nzimande, the South African Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology attended online.

In her opening address, Döring emphasised the importance of international research cooperation, particularly with Africa. The chair holders, all of them internationally mobile researchers, reported very personally on key moments in their careers. In this context, the research chair was acknowledged as an ideal opportunity for a return to Africa. The following day was dedicated to science and the collaborations with partners at German universities funded by the DAAD.

Saturn-ähnliches Dekortationsbild
Research Chairs at AIMS centres

AIMS and the German Research Chairs

In Zulu, Siyakhula means “we grow”, and AIMS has certainly grown in every respect. AIMS South Africa was the first centre to be established by the South African, Neil Turok, a professor at Cambridge at the time and was supposed to provide a blueprint for setting up centres in Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon and Rwanda. AIMS is a pan-African initiative which originally focused on training Master’s students. Their number has also multiplied since then.

Research entered the portfolio somewhat later. Financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and established by the Humboldt Foundation, the Research Chairs for mathematics and its applications played a major role in establishing research activities at AIMS. The first holder of a research chair was the Senegalese Moustapha Fall who was appointed to the newly-founded AIMS Senegal in 2013. Since then, nine further chairs have been established at various centres. The tenth chair-holder will assume his position at AIMS South Africa in the coming year.

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