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The Next Einstein Forum (NEF) and the Government of Rwanda hosted the second NEF Ministerial Meeting to leverage research networks and funding mechanisms to drive Africa’s long term progress. Under the theme, “Collaborative Global Research Networks: Implementing Essential Actions”, the meeting reviewed three important themes arising from the first ministerial meeting held in Dakar, Senegal in March 2016.

The meeting participants agreed on increasing the annual rate of PhD holders: Each African country must roll out a comprehensive evaluation and analysis of the number of PhDs in every field – identifying strengths and weaknesses of national PhD systems including design and mobility. Participants also called for the establishment of a pan-African pool of researchers. Finally, delegates insisted that while increasing the number of STEM doctorates is critical for innovation, social sciences and humanities must not be overlooked.

An agreement was also reached on the establishment of an African Research Chair Initiative: The process establishing research chair initiatives must be managed country by country, cognizant of each country’s capabilities and progress. In addition, research chair initiatives must build a pipeline of young researchers benefiting from such initiatives. The next meeting will review this further, identifying collaboration mechanisms for existing initiatives, as well as filling gaps with new national and regional initiatives.

It was further stated that there is a need to form a consortium that includes various African and global institutions, especially the private sector that would design and fund mechanisms to increase mobility among African researchers living in Africa and the diaspora. This consortium would also work to highlight opportunities in each country, as well as foster international research collaborations. Delegates also asked the NEF to further investigate the creation of industry led research initiatives that foster mobility and collaboration.