Monthly Archives: November, 2016

Dr Alvaro Sobrinho to Spearhead New R&D Investment Campaign


As Chairman of the African charity, the Planet Earth Institute, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho has been selected to lead a campaign that aims to “mobilise resources for Research & Development in Africa”. The prestigious duty of spearheading the campaign will be shared with President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, of Mauritius, Planet Earth Institute Vice-Chairman. Together, the pair will attempt to create public/private partnerships across Africa, which will fund research and development on the continent.

The new campaign is to be financed with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has focused much of its own resources on improving research in Africa, particularly in the area of health and medicine. The Foundation clearly hopes that its own efforts can be bolstered by other parties contributing resources to the cause.

The grant has been handed to the Planet Earth Institute; the organisation will run the campaign under the guidance of the Chair and Vice-Chair. The Institute hopes to “catalyse national, regional and global advocacy for African R&D”.

The Planet Earth Institute’s main objective is the scientific advancement of Africa, with the Gates Foundation grant money the organisation will be able to take its funding efforts to the next level. Already the Institute has funded dozens of PhD programmes in Africa, along with a research centre and a science education advocacy campaign.

Dr Alvaro Sobrinho has advocated the involvement of private capital in African development in several public speeches and published works, he will now be able to build on the work he has already started, promoting investment in African research and development. His voice on the issue will be supported by other notable figures during the campaign, as well as that of the campaign partner, the African Academy of Science.

Planet Earth Institute Expands Educational Programmes to Angola


Only a few weeks after announced the launch of an Angolan focused PhD scholarship programme, the African NGO, the Planet Earth Institute, has announced its intention to expand its science education initiative, the Science and Technology Enrolment Programme (STEP), to Angola.

STEP was initially launched in Mauritius earlier this year. Several successful events have already been hosted by the Planet Earth Institute, including a tour of a marine explorer vessel and a two day science and technology learning weekend. The programme is aimed at African students at secondary school level. It hope to inspire an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics among the students with the objective of improving enrolment rates in these subjects.

The programme is part of the Planet Earth Institutes broader agenda to promote the scientific advancement of Africa. The institute and its founding members, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, Lord Paul Boateng and other, believe that science and technology are the keys to unlocking Africa’s potential and overcoming the continents development challenges.

Dr Alvaro Sobrinho has particularly emphasised the need to improve science education in Africa given the trend towards greater automation, mechanisation and technological integration occurring in the economy. This trend, broadly referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, will demand specific skills and knowledge from the labour force. To prepare for this, Dr Sobrinho is convinced that African students must gain a science focused education.

The STEP programme aims to demonstrate the importance of science to young students and to give them a chance to learn about the exciting opportunities a career in the sciences can offer. The programme will launch in Angola in December with a two-day event. The Planet Earth Institute hopes to reach more than 1500 students over the course of the next year and has joined forces with a local Angolan charity to make this possible.

Charity of Alvaro Sobrinho Explains how to Create a Bright Future for African Education

The African focused NGO, the Planet Earth Institute, has created a 7 point plan for improving science education in Africa. Chaired by Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, the Planet Earth Institute has already made significant contributions to the African education system, funding a host of PhD programmes and contributing to the establishment of a research centre.

The organisation views education as a way of increasing the presence of science and technology on the continent, as both are considered important factors for improving development and bettering the lives of millions of people. Particularly, the improvement of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects are seen as vital to achieving development goals.

To improve STEM education in Africa, the PEI recommends using digital technology to improve access to educational resources. “Mass open online courses, or MOOCs, have the potential to revolutionise education”, argues Sarah Hambly of the PEI. Her view is shared by the organisations Chairman, Dr Alvaro Sobinrho, who believes that digital education will play a central role in improving African education.

Connecting schools and universities with the private sector will help to direct STEM education in a direction most useful to African development goals. The private sector is leading force in job creation in Africa and will play a big role in overcoming the continents issues. Already examples can be found, such as the partnership between Hecate Energy Africa and two universities in Tanzania. The company will help the university to run two courses in renewable energy, offering their unique experience and expertise in return for a new generation of graduates with the skills to build a renewable energy sector in Tanzania.

Dr Alvaro Sobrinho has often stressed the importance of private-public partnerships when it comes to issues of development. The PEI has been working closely with both governments and businesses to achieve it aims. Applying the same formula directly to education is the logical next step for the organisation.

With these significant changes, the Planet Earth Institute believes education in Africa will have a bright and prosperous future that benefits students and the continent.

Private Finance can Impact Development in Africa


According to Angolan born banker, philanthropist, investor, Alvaro Sobrinho, courting private finance may be the only way to meet Africa’s funding obligations under the Sustainable Development Goals. Nearly $4 trillion a year must be invested into development projects during the next decade and a half if the continent is to fulfil the objectives laid out by the United Nations. With the bulk of the money being derived from national governments, international aid and philanthropy, the rest will have to come from private sources.

Attracting private capital and investing it in a manner that will encourage real development is no easy task. The failure of development projects to meet their objectives in the past and with numerous well-documented cases of investments being squandered and funds being misappropriated, stringent measures will have to be taken to ensure private capital is properly used and to convince investors that they will see a return.

To achieve this, Alvaro Sobrinho recommends the use of Development Impact Bonds. These are bonds linked directly to outcomes. For example, a bond holder investing in a new road would only receive payback once vehicles are using the new infrastructure. Sobrinho suggests that Development Impact Bonds could be applied to education, in particular, the funding of PhD projects. In this case, investors would receive payback once graduates have found employment in a relevant field. Once the outcome is achieved, bond holders would be paid by governments or donors depending on the situation.

The outcome oriented structure of the bonds would, argues Sobrinho, “incentivise more private and philanthropic investors on the continent to contribute to development, where once they may have hesitated due to concerns over accountability.” On top of this, the bonds could bring private sector attributes to the public domain, by strengthening management and offering efficiencies.

Alvaro Sobrinho is optimistic about the potential of Development Impact Bonds, yet recognises their limits. They offer private investors the chance to assist the continents development while earning substantial returns, but alone they are by no means enough to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Rather they should be considered part of a broader initiative to propel Africa into a sustainable future.