Those of you that regularly read my blog know that I have this fixation with the idea of an African hegemon in the form of either Nigeria or South Africa that would provide visionary leadership for the rest of the continent. I was therefore delighted when I learned that the first African Institute of Science and Technology campus will open in Abuja, Nigeria, this coming July. The university will be part of a pan-African alliance of similar institutions that will be bastions of knowledge and research. The AIST will be modeled in a similar way to India’s legendary IIT and will consist of four campuses in the East, West, North and South of the African continent.
The initiative is the brain child of the Nelson Mandela Institution and will focus on the creation of scientific solutions to Africa-specific problems. The core courses offered by AIST will be in science and engineering although I see expansion into the social sciences once the demand builds up; after all, Africa needs all kinds of solutions, not just scientific ones. These are really exciting times……..
It is commendable that Nigeria provided the seed money for the project and that it will be the first host of such a high profile institution. Other potential candidates are South Africa or Botswana for the Southern campus, Kenya (once they get their house in order, if not Rwanda would be the next best thing) in the East and possibly Libya or Tunisia in the North. AIST, on top of being in itself a centre of excellence, will provide competition to other African universities that have been wallowing in mediocrity due to lack of competition and political meddling in the universities.