Monthly Archives: February, 2017

Charity of Alvaro Sobrinho to Place Spotlight on African Innovation

The Planet Earth Institute, charity of banker and philanthropist Dr. Alvaro Sobrinho, has announced a new event series to highlight the groups and individuals making a difference in Africa through innovation, science and technology. The Spotlight Seminars will promote the impressive achievements and contributions of African science, in an attempt to counter the often negative perception of the continent.

The Institute believes African countries are often viewed as “passive recipients of scientific
and technological advancement, gifted to them by a benevolent global community”. This framing, suggest the Planet Earth Institute, belies the very real contributions Africa is making to the global advancement of science and technology.

That said, the Institute recognises that Africa faces many challenges including a “debilitating lack of scientific capacity and seriously underfunded educational institutions”. Yet these challenges obscure the potential of Africa to become a significant contributor to global science. Already there are “pockets of excellence and scientific hubs dotted around the continent doing great work” claims the Institute.

The Spotlight Seminars will highlight those pockets of excellence and bring the scientific hubs to the attention of the international community, starting in March with a seminar on agriculture in Africa. The seminar will explore the many challenges facing small-holder farmers on the continent and draw on the experience and knowledge of experts from academia, business and NGO’s to demonstrate the opportunities these challenges present.

On top of this, the seminar will bring attention to the technological innovations already being implemented in Africa and examine the many innovations that are under development on the continent.

The event will be hosted by Planet Earth Institute trustee, Lord Paul Boateng. The seminar will take place on March 15th at Burlington House in London, UK.

Visual Essay Demonstrates STEM Education in Action

A visual essay supported by the African NGO, the Planet Earth Institute, displays a series of photographs that capture STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education in action. The series features a Kenyan-based education initiative, the E-Lab (Engineering Lab Africa). The group has been working with students between the ages of 6 and 18, giving them the opportunity to learn about STEM subjects and gain hand-on experience.

The Planet Earth Institute has placed the promotion of STEM education at the forefront of its education agenda. The Institute is funding high-level, PhD research into priority STEM topics including energy, water, agriculture and healthcare. Last the organisation handed out the first round of PhD scholarships and there will be many more to follow in the coming years.

Alongside its higher education programmes, the Planet Earth Institute has been running a programme aimed at promoting science to young African students. Called STEP (Science and Technology Enrolment Programme), the Institute hopes to inspire young African students to pursue further and higher education in the sciences. Currently enrolment rates for science subjects in Africa is far below the global average, the Institute hopes STEP will contribute to improving Africa’s average.

Like the Planet Earth Institute, the E-Lab has been providing STEM education for sometime. The organisation has discovered that hands-on learning produces the best results. As the visual essay shows, the E-Lab provides students with tools and computers to allow them to actively engage with the subject matter. Students can be seen using power drills, programming on state-of-the-art computers and working together in groups.

Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, the guiding force behind the Planet Earth Institute, has placed STEM education high on the development agenda. He has argued persuasively in favour of an increased focus on STEM education in Africa in order to prepare young Africans for the high-tech, innovative economy they will find themselves working in. The E-Lab demonstrates the best way STEM can be taught to African students.

Responsible and Responsive Business Needed in Africa

To solve Africa’s economic and social issues and maintain sustainable development, Africa needs businesses that are ready and willing to provide leadership that is both responsible and responsive, claims Dr. Alvaro Sobrinho. After attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, and hearing the Forum’s founder, Klaus Schwab, call on world leaders to “acknowledge that frustration and discontent are only increasing among people who haven’t experienced economic development and social progress” and that the only option to is explain the situation to them and “proactively generate solutions”, Dr. Alvaro Sobrinho has stated that no where is this more true than in Africa.

Decisive action must be taken on Africa’s most pressing issues, claims the Angolan born Chairman of the Planet Earth Institute, a science focused African NGO. These include the lack of electricity experienced by 600 million Africans, the inability of entrepreneurs to get their ventures off the ground and the lack of high-quality science education to bridge the ‘skills-gap’. In all these areas, claims Dr. Alvaro Sobrinho, business has a leadership role to play.

Firstly, argues Dr. Sobrinho, businesses can provide innovative tech solutions to some of the more practical problems facing Africa, such as electricity generation. African start-up company M-Kopa is already providing a hopeful solution, installing clean energy systems in the homes of nearly half a million African’s, using the lastest mobile technology to register payments and produce returns on investment.

Alongside providing practical solutions, businesses can partner with universities to deliver industry relevant education to aspiring African scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians. IT training, in particular, could be brought into African universities by businesses that already have the expertise to offer. Examples are already being set by international businesses from Europe and the United States.

While progress is being made, Dr. Sobrinho is calling on all businesses active on the continent to ramp up their efforts to assist Africa. It is up to them, claims Dr. Sobrinho, to provide the responsible and responsive leadership that Africa desperately needs.