DFID-IDRC Program in Support of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences' Next Einstein Initiative

IDRC is implementing the Government of Canada's $20 million contribution to expand the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences' Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS-NEI) network. The network provides rigorous mathematics training to post-graduate African students. The first AIMS Centre was established in Cape Town in 2003. Since that time, 412 students from 33 countries have graduated-one-third of them women. A large number of these graduates enter advanced master's and doctoral programs in fields such as computer science, environmental science, and nuclear physics. This project will provide funding for AIMS-NEI to offer enhanced training in applied mathematics to top African students, allowing them to pursue high quality postgraduate studies. The ultimate objective is to create future leaders who will contribute to the Africa's economic, political, and educational advancement. AIMS-NEI plans to establish 15 centres across the African continent by 2021 and to graduate 750 well-trained African students annually to take on leadership roles in academia, industry, and government. AIMS-NEI envisions that people of rare ability-Africa's own Einsteins-will emerge, capable of innovative breakthroughs that will transform Africa's prospects. IDRC's existing contribution is supporting the pre-existing centre in South Africa, and the establishment of three new centres in Senegal, Ghana, and Ethiopia by December 2015. The centres will also leverage additional funding. It was understood at the outset that Canada's contribution would be insufficient for AIMS-NEI's first phase and that additional funds would be needed. The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has committed up to $28.8 million over five years in support of AIMS-NEI. DFID will provide these funds on a match funding basis, as additional funds are raised. DFID's contribution will help establish and cover initial operating costs of two additional AIMS Centres in Tanzania and Benin. It will also provide funding for the AIMS Centres in South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, and Ethiopia. DFID's funding is helping to deepen and scale-up the existing IDRC contribution, making it more sustainable and increasing its impact. It is also adding value to AIMS-NEI by enhancing the ability of graduates to pursue private sector employment opportunities in key areas of development across the African continent. IDRC provided strategic advice to both AIMS-NEI and DFID to ensure that the DFID contribution would be complementary to, and build on, IDRC funding. AIMS-NEI, DFID, and IDRC all agreed that IDRC's role of providing strategic advice was a natural progression toward IDRC's responsibility for managing DFID's contribution. IDRC is managing DFID's contribution for the following reasons: - To ensure DFID and IDRC contributions are aligned and complementary; - To streamline AIMS-NEI oversight and reporting requirements; and, - To add further value to the program. IDRC is adding value to the program through a $2 million contribution. These funds will enhance postgraduate opportunities through research that will foster industry-research linkages and through IDRC African Research Chairs in fields such as mathematics, physics, or astronomy.

Project ID


Project status


End Date

Wednesday, May 2, 2018


60 months

IDRC Officer

Pelagie Lefebvre

Total funding

CA$ 31,453,247


North of Sahara, South of Sahara

Project Leader

Thierry Zomahoun


The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences - Next Einstein Initiative Foundation (UK)

Institution Country

United Kingdom

Institution Website