The 2018 edition of the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) is currently taking place in Kigali, Rwanda, gathering over 1,500 scientists, researchers, delegates and key decision makers from the African continent and around the globe. This year’s forum was expected to be a shift from the norm, and it is already living up to that expectation. Having kickstarted today, it is scheduled to end on the 28th of March 2018. It will feature a good number of sessions and scientific breakthroughs, with more women leading the discussions this year. Following President Kagame’s keynote address, the event was officially declared open today.

The first plenary session at this year’s NEF was themed, Playing Catch Up: Accelerating Africa’s Lab to Market Process. This session focused on product innovation, in particular how to accelerate the time to market for African innovators. The panelists shed light on why Africa is missing opportunities to Adopt products and solutions and what can concretely be done. President of Lab Central and CEO of Cambridge Biolabs, Dr Johannes Fruehauf, President of AIMS Ghana, Ms. Lucy Quist, and others were members of the panel. There was also another panel which focused on the opportunities for blockchain technologies in Addressing Africa’s challenges. This was shortly followed by another panel discussion centred around insights on blockchain applications in several sectors that include logistics, finance, healthcare as well as policy implications for the adoption of cutting edge technology in the current environment in Africa. This featured speakers from various sectors, including Dr Chelsea Barabas who is a research scientist at MIT.

The women were not left out as a special session took place on bridging the gap for women in science in technology. While a panel on Women in STEM at the NEF GG2016 sought to define and to challenge barriers that cause women’s under representation in STEM fields, this special session brought together political and industry leaders. It also focused on innovative policies to put it place by governments to advance the status of women in science, academia and  industry. The Vice President of Innovation, Global Health and Policy Communication, Johnson & Johnson, Ms. Seema Kumar was one of  delegates who shared certain thoughts on the future of women scientists in Africa.

On the topic of Driving Innovation through Africa’s Digital Economy, panelists for the session discussed how new trends are radically transforming the business landscape, reshaping the nature of work and the boundaries of enterprises spurring innovation in business models and driving the transfer of knowledge and access to international markets. In Chief Executive Officer, Elsevier, Mr Ron Mobed’s opening remarks, he highlighted the fact that the digital economy is indeed the single most important driver of innovation, competitiveness and growth.

A unique partnership between the Next Einstein Forum (NEF), an initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), and Elsevier, the information analytics business specializing in science and health, is geared towards the creation of a new pan-African, peer reviewed, open access publishing journal, dedicated to boosting the global reach and impact of research by Africans.Scientific African will generate increased visibility for African researchers and provide a platform to share their research with the global community. Scientific African is being launched at the Next Einstein Forum Global Gathering 2018 being held in Kigali, Rwanda, March 26-28, 2018.

Todays session ended with a special discussion on Inspiring the Next Generation: An Intergenerational Conversation between Top Scientists.

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