By Kevin Howell
While Africa has made strides economically in recent years, the continent is struggling to train individuals in STEM fields, which is a cause of concern for leaders.
At the Engineering a Better World conference in London, Mauritius President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim said the deficit of engineering skills in Africa will stunt its future economic growth and lead to other hardships.
“Only through science, technology, engineering and mathematics can we as a global community increase the prosperity of our people,” said Gurib-Fakim, who is biodiversity scientist. “But Africa, despite its impressive recent economic growth, remains burdened by a deeply rooted scientific deficit.”
Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi made similar statements at an engineering fair in his nation, emphasizing the need to develop human capital in the engineering field.
Engineers are taking heed of such challenges by training students in important STEM skills. Here are some ways engineers have used EPICS in IEEE grants to promote engineering in Africa.
INNOVATION IN UGANDA
Desiring to develop inventors in his nation, IEEE Uganda member Ezabo Baron is working on creating an innovation hub to help aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs commercialize new products and develop processes to benefit underserved people.
Using an EPICS grant, Baron partnered with the Humanitarian Innovation Technical Institute, local universities and schools to create a software application to select and mentor local talent in developing projects.
Local students are building the application, getting hands-on experience in web development, critical thinking, and community action. The project is giving students and entrepreneurs access to technology and developing their technical skills.
PROMOTING SCIENCE IN NAMIBIA
Many schools in Namibia lack the resources and skilled teachers to adequately teach students science. IEEE members are helping bridge that gap with a mobile science laboratory.
The lab provides hands-on demonstrations to help teachers illustrate basic concepts of science. IEEE members installed the lab and instructed teachers on how to use it. Then, teachers work with students to apply skills learned by developing a project.
The lab includes a book of experiments so students and teachers can continue to use the lab and apply their skills.
TEACHING TECH IN ZAMBIA
Local university students used an EPICS grant to provide computer-aided teaching units for secondary school students in Zambia. The teaching units provide interactive websites that instruct students in science, math, art, and English.
The university students worked with local high schools to conduct training workshops on basic computing as well as give talks on computer networking and communication technology trends.
Engineering is foundational to a country’s growth. If future generations lack technical skills and knowledge, a country is heading for hardship. That’s why engineers in Africa are acting now to train and develop the next generation of engineers.
Do you want to get involved in providing training and knowledge to communities in need? EPICS in IEEE can help fund your project. Find out more here.