2016 was a big year for the Planet Earth Institute, full of new and exciting projects, grants, new partnerships and more. In a yearly review published by the organisation, The Planet Earth Institute has identified four achievements it is particularly proud of. Firstly, the launch of the HE Ameenah Gurib-Fakim PhD Scholarship Programme, followed by a substantial endowment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to further their work in Africa, the launch of the Science, Technology Enrolment Programme (STEP) in Mauritius and the #ScienceAfrica UnConference the Planet Earth Institute hosted in London.
The Institute hopes to expand these programmes and building upon the successes of 2016. The HE Ameenah Gurib-Fakim PhD Scholarship Programme awarded 10 pilot grants this year and hopes to fund a total of 10,000 PhD’s over the course of the next decade. The programme is built on a partnership between the Planet Earth Institute, the African Academy of Science and a network of international business leaders, including Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, and international institutions.
The generous donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be used to run an advocacy campaign in the coming year. The campaign will focus on generating resources for research and development projects in Africa. Targeting governments, international businesses, and international institutions, the Planet Earth Institute hopes to persuade organisations to spend more on science education and research, which it believes will boost development in Africa.
Alongside a focus on higher education and high-level R&D investment, the Planet Earth Institute has attended to the future of young Africa students by creating STEP. The programme ran several interactive, hands-on study days in Mauritius, giving students the chance to learn about science and meet professionals. The Institute hopes this will encourage students to pursue a science centred education.
The #ScienceAfrica UnConference in London brought together experts, academics, business representatives and international organisations including the World Bank and the United Nations. Dr Alvaro Sobrinho and HE Ameenah Gurib-Fakim gave speeches to the audience, along with contributions from many other high-profile guests. The conference focused on how to inspire a new generation of scientific leaders in Africa.
After a year of growth and new challenges the Planet Earth Institute will be looking towards a bright and productive 2017, a year in which the scientific advancement of Africa will surely take a big step forward.