Michelle Nhuch


African technology and innovation leaders visit MIT

September 22, 2014

Cambridge, MA—High-ranking African leaders in science, technology, and innovation will gather at MIT on September 23 and 24 to explore areas for mutual cooperation. The visit is a reflection of the rising interest among African countries in putting science and technology at the center of their development process.

As part of their visit, the African leaders will participate in a Starr Forum event "Africa Rebooted: Science Technology, and Innovation in Development." This public event will be hosted by the Center for International Studies and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning on Wednesday, September 24, from 3:00 to 4:30 PM, at the Whitehead Institute's McGovern Auditorium (9 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA).

MIT Vice President Claude Canizares and Professor Hazel Sive, Coordinator of the MIT-Africa Program (at MISTI) will offer introductory remarks. Speakers will include: Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General, United National Conference on Trade and Development, Geneva; Professor Aderemi Kuku, President, African Academy of Sciences, Nairobi; and Dr. Beatrice Khamati-Njenga, Division Head, Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology, African Union, Addis Ababa. Moderating the event will be Professor Calestous Juma, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Visiting Professor at MIT.

The Starr Forum is organized in collaboration with the Institute-wide MIT Africa Interest Group, which will host a kick-off event on September 23, 5:00-7:00pm.

In June 2014 African presidents adopted a 10-year Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024). The strategy is part of the long-term Agenda 2063, which outlines the need to "consolidate African initiatives and strategies on accelerated human capital development, science and technology and innovation."

Agenda 2063 calls on Africa to "lead the new industrial revolution by building a skilled workforce, capitalizing on the digital revolution and global knowledge." In pursuing this vision, the African Union emphasizes the importance of building up its universities as centers of excellence.

To help implement STISA-2024, African countries are exploring a variety of partnerships with leading science and technology universities around the world. The aim of the MIT visit is to explore areas of potential cooperation between MIT and African countries in areas of science, technology and innovation, according to Professor Calestous Juma.

"This is a new age of science and technology diplomacy where universities such as MIT will play a leading role in shaping alternative patterns of international cooperation," Juma said. The visit will allow members of the MIT community to learn more about emerging trends in Africa, and will give visiting African officials the opportunity to familiarize themselves with MIT. The visit will bring together high-ranking officials from government, industry and academia for activities that include:

a) Meeting with the senior leadership of MIT and faculty to learn about the Institute's activities

b) Interacting with students and fellows to gain an understanding of their activities

c) Participation in a symposium to help raise awareness on the potential for cooperation.

For more information or to RSVP for the Starr Forum event please write to For the MIT Africa Interest Group Meeting on September 23, contact Julia Reynolds. More details on the public event are available here. A link to the live web stream is available here.

MIT's Center for International Studies, a dynamic international affairs research center, is home to a variety of research, education, and outreach programs. It seeks to bridge the worlds of the scholar and the policymaker by offering each a place to exchange perspectives, and by encouraging academics to work on policy-relevant problems. Center scholars, and the students they helped educate, have served at senior levels in every administration since the Kennedy years. They are today among the nation's most distinguished analysts and executives in government and the private sector.