Angola as a regional science hub for Africa

Alvaro Sobrinho 4

Alvaro Sobrinho welcomes the PEI Trustees and the British Ambassador to Luanda

My speech to the advanced scientific forum, Luanda, Angola

Thank you Rt Hon Lord Boateng, it is an absolute pleasure to be here tonight.  This week the Planet Earth Institute has brought together international scientists, politicians and business leaders to discuss the future of Angola and the region – and this event is another very important part of our trip.

Tonight, we are here to celebrate the development of cutting edge and world-class science in our country. Our project, working with the Ministry of Science and their Minister Hon. Maria Candida Pereira Teixeira, and in partnership with colleagues at the Ministry of Education, Agostinho Neto University and Newcastle University in the UK, will open the first major PhD Centre in Angola. I thank the Ministers, and Prof. Orlanda de Mata, Rector of Agostinho Neto and the Project team leader Dr. Jamie Amezaga from Newcastle University, for being here tonight.

The Centre – the Centre of Excellence in Science for Sustainability in Africa (CESSAF) – will award 100 scholarships in the first ten years of its opening, a commitment I announce here today. This type of PhD-level activity and research is crucial for Angola’s long-term sustainability, training and inspiring a new generation of academic leaders in Africa within a framework of social responsibility.

These scholarships will be available to our own students in Angola, but also to those from across the neighbouring region, as we look to build Angola as a hub for science in the years and decades to come. We have the commitment now, from the Government and from the various Ministries involved, and we have the energy and the passion of our young students to make the most of this opportunity.

Moreover, as those who know of the PEI will know, we want to partner with the best and the brightest around the world to always help improve projects on the ground here in Africa. That is why that the CESSAF Centre will be twinned with Universities in India and across the global south, with parallel PhD programmes and frequent student exchanges, creating a new axis of scientific researchers across the Global South. I am delighted, too, that our distinguished lead Professor Mukesh Khare from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi is also with us tonight, having signed an agreement with the CESSAF project this afternoon. India is a great example of a science and technology led economy, and there is much we can do together.

Investing in PhD training develops not just strong academics and scientists but real value-creators for the economy. As some of you in the room tonight might have been through the PhD process, you will know the unique value and skill set that brings, and that is what we need to make the next developmental step.

And this is where I see the role of business.  As someone who has been involved in the private sector all my life, I know the value of continual investment and training. CESSAF will pioneer a new model to incorporate the private sector, meaning if I am a student studying at CESSAF, I have one supervisor from Agostinho Neto, one from Newcastle, but – critically – one from business too.

The private sector has, so far, invested heavily in this project along with the Planet Earth Institute, to put things in place for the Centre to be prepared. The Professors from Agostinho Neto have been sent to the UK and trained for a year, the academic research has been prepared and the facilities readied. Now we are outreaching to business, to commit to award this corporate mentorship and scholarship.  For a business, we are asking £30-40,000 a year to sponsor a student at Angola’s first major PhD programme, as well as offering them workplacements or mentoring. This project is about more than just sponsorship or grants, it is about helping to strengthen the academic and scientific ecosystem in Angola. And that’s something that will benefit us all.

CESSAF is an incredible project and one that has taken years to form.  I am hugely proud that we are now ready to start this final process and that, soon, we will see students arriving at the University gates.

I hope you are as excited as I am and I hope you enjoy the evening.

Thank you.

Alvaro Sobrinho CESSAF

Alvaro Sobrinho addresses the science and technology conference, Luanda

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