African Institute for Mathematical Sciences

The quest for the next Einstein in Africa

IDRC is implementing Canada’s $20 million contribution to expand the network of Institutes for Mathematical Sciences in Africa. AIMS provides rigorous mathematics training to post-graduate African students.

Mathematical sciences are the backbone of a modern economy. Solutions to complex challenges in health, agriculture, and finance, for example, all require advanced mathematical modelling skills.

In 2003, AIMS opened its doors in Cape Town, South Africa. Its goal: to help Africa produce and use science and technology for its development. Each year, 50 of Africa’s top students enroll in a rigorous 10-month graduate-level course that leads to a master's degree in mathematical science.

​Expanding the base for excellence in Africa

At heart, AIMS is based on a simple concept: it is a space where Africa's brightest graduates are taught by the world’s best lecturers. All AIMS students benefit from full scholarships. The teaching staff are all volunteers, drawn from some of the world’s best universities. Among the professors are Nobel Prize winners, as well as several recipients of the Fields Medal, often considered the highest award in mathematics.

The Next Einstein Initiative

Since its launch, AIMS has won global recognition as a centre of excellence for postgraduate education and research. Building on its success, AIMS launched the Next Einstein Initiative (NEI)in 2008 to build a critical mass of scientific and technical talent in Africa, capable of driving progress across the continent. The result will be a pan-African network of 15 AIMS centres by 2023. AIMS–NEI envisions that people of rare ability—Africa’s own Einsteins—will emerge, capable of innovative breakthroughs to transform Africa's future.

Investing in Africa's future

AIMS-NEI is supported through public and private funding, including a $20 million investment from the Government of Canada, announced in July 2010, provided through IDRC. Canada’s lead investment will help fund new AIMS centres across Africa. 

AIMS-NEI’s success has led to a commitment from the UK’s Department for International Development to match up to CA$29 million over five years to the initiative. These funds, managed by IDRC, will be to establish two additional centres, as well as provide consolidated funding for existing centres.

So far, four new AIMS centres have opened: AIMS-Senegal (2011), AIMS-Ghana (2012), AIMS-Cameroon (2013), and AIMS-Tanzania (2014).

IDRC is also contributing CA$2 million in addition to the Government of Canada´s CA $20 million contribution. These funds will enhance postgraduate opportunities for AIMS-NEI alumni by supporting research by AIMS graduates to foster industry-research linkages, and creating IDRC African Research Chairs in fields such as mathematics, physics, or astronomy. 

For more information, visit the AIMS–NEI website and watch a video on AIMS.


The UK Department for International Development