Final plenary session of the DFG-AIMS Workshop within the framework of the Next Einstein Forum (NEF)

Statement by Dr Georg Schütte, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, in Dakar/Senegal

Check against delivery.

Professor Strohschneider,
Professor Green,
Distinguished Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

This workshop is a very special occasion as far as the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is concerned. The close cooperation between AIMS and the German Research Association (DFG) in fact originates from an event which the Ministry organized to coordinate support for the AIMS centres. And this was precisely our intention: We don’t want to merely fund individual, isolated measures but to use our funding activities to initiate networks and prepare the ground for research collaborations – thus reaching out to a wide community of researchers. Imagine our work as providing the initial spark that kindles diverse activities, exchanges and measures without the need for any further action on our part.

The workshop here in Senegal today links up perfectly with my Ministry’s support for the AIMS centres. Let me briefly explain:

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research – or BMBF for short – has been supporting AIMS by funding a research chair at the AIMS centre here in Senegal since 2012. This successful pilot scheme has developed into a large-scale BMBF initiative – entitled “German Research Chairs”. Under this funding measure, the BMBF will fund four further research chairs at four AIMS sites between 2016 and approximately 2021: In 2016, research chairs will be set up at the AIMS centre in Ghana (the chair holder has already been selected) and in South Africa (the meeting to select the successful candidate is scheduled for June 2016). These will be followed by chairs in Cameroon and Tanzania.

It is our declared aim to ensure that the chairs are firmly established in the long term, beyond the limited period of German funding. The project is therefore seeking opportunities to safeguard the continuation of the chairs irrespective of German funding.

If the “German Research Chairs” funding instrument continues to prove successful it will be applied to other regions and in other disciplines which could benefit from this type of capacity building.

We made a deliberate choice to begin with the field of mathematics. Mathematics represents the major ‘key technology’ for progress in almost all areas of modern life and is thus of tremendous importance for industry, engineering, information technology, medicine, finance and many other fields.  

The master’s degree courses at the AIMS centres set out to cover the great demand for well-trained mathematicians with their particular focus on application and specific local challenges. The BMBF’s research chairs in Applied Mathematics are a perfect accompaniment to these courses and an important link with research.

The aim of the DFG workshop yesterday and today was to discuss opportunities and topics for research cooperation between German and African researchers. So-called “match-making” workshops will be held in due course to bring African and German researchers together to work on the most promising topics. This too marks an ideal link-up with existing BMBF funding activities because funding for the AIMS centres does not only involve the establishment of research chairs at the various centres, but also the provision of funding for additional accompanying activities in the field of training: for example DAAD funding for doctoral candidates as well as for cooperation schemes between the AIMS centres and German universities. I am convinced that the workshop will provide many ideas for cooperation and will develop promising topics. Some of them might even fall within the specialized area of the holder of a German Research Chair!

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, I would like to thank you for your commitment to the German-African partnership both within the framework of this workshop and beyond. I hope that you will continue to come up with good ideas!