We were absolutely delighted to celebrate our launch in Mauritius, and HE President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim’s appointment as Vice Chairman and Trustee with two events at the State House, Reduit, on November 23.
The day opened with a high-level presentation on the Planet Earth Institute’s work for a selection of distinguished guests including government ministers, representatives from multilateral organisations such as UNDP and UNESCO, and leading figures from the private sector. Chaired by Rt Hon Lord Paul Boateng, our board gave a broad overview of the PEI’s work across the continent including our efforts to strengthen higher education, foster innovative technologies, and efforts to build a coalition of people working in and passionate about science in Africa. They also explained the PEI’s expansion to Mauritius, citing the government’s strong commitment to embedding science in development and the country’s status as the most competitive place to do business on the continent.
That afternoon, we held a public policy debate entitled ‘Mauritius and Africa’s scientific independence: the role of business’, which was attended by over 160 people from business, academia, diplomatic missions, and students. Lord Boateng again opened the debate by praising Mauritius for its unique position as a bridge between East and West, and introduced our distinguished board members who each spoke on the subject for debate. PEI chairman, Dr. Sobrinho, then explored what scientific independence means for the continent. He passionately argued that investment in science, technology and innovation is the best way of moving African countries to higher income status.
Sir Christopher Edwards, a leading medical scientist, also stressed the importance of improving aspirations and encouraging equity in the applied sciences on the continent. Sir Magdi Yacoub, one of the world’s leading heart surgeons, also acknowledged that while there has been tremendous progress in science, particularly in the Global North, less than 20% of the world’s population benefit from the results and creation of this research and innovation. This is truly an unsustainable solution, which strengthens the PEI’s fight for Africa’s scientific independence. Following this, our CEO, Mauricio Fernandes, recounted the PEI’s story, and our desire to see ‘Mauritius become the scientific capital of Africa’. HE President Gurib-Fakim closed the presentation by stressing that Mauritius can only achieve its goal of becoming a high income country by 2025 and a producer of knowledge by developing its number one resource: its people. She also urged her listeners to become ‘activists, not passivists, for Africa-centric development solutions built on science and technology’.
From there, Lord Boateng invited our audience to participate in the discussion. We were delighted to see the high levels of engagement among our guests, and listen to the wide-ranging discussion. Issues raised included the importance of forging strong links between universities in the UK and Mauritius, how African entrepreneurs can benefit the continent, and generating opportunities for young people to engage in scientific research in Mauritius.
Thank you so much to all who attended the day’s events, and we look forward to partnering with you in our journey to build scientific research capacity in Mauritius and the broader African continent!