Some of the world's most brilliant minds will gather in Kigali, Rwanda next week to present their solutions to desperate problems that face humanity, and many of them are women from Africa whose brilliant ideas are changing the state of the continent.
The Next Einstein Forum (NEF) female fellows are breaking barriers in noninvasive health measures, nanotechnology, treating and preventing malnutrition, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease research, next-generation health systems and technology policies, plant defence, waste upcycling, and explaining Einstein's "fudge factor".
South African NEF fellow Dr Vinet Coetzee, who is also a member of the Royal Society of South Africa, leads a team that developed an affordable 3D camera that is able to identify the facial features of African infants born with Downs Syndrome. Her plan is to develop a facial-screening tool to detect various inborn conditions and expand non-invasive methods to detect many more conditions, especially in Africa.
Biotechnologist Dr Sanushka Naidoo, also from South Africa, is harnessing the power of eucalyptus to protect crops against pests and pathogens under harsh African climates — part of her mission to improve understanding and acceptance of plant biotechnology as a means to enhance crops in Africa.
They are just two of the inspiring women from the continent speaking at the forum. Professor Maha Nasr from Egypt is breaking new ground with her creation of novel carriers for treatment of diseases, mainly for cancer and Alzheimer's. Dr Aku Kwamie from Ghana's campaign for health-systems governance is working to see equitable healthcare for all Africans.
According to Unesco, the number of women around the world pursuing a career in science and technology is estimated at 28 percent, and only 30 percent of STEM professionals in sub-Saharan Africa are women – which is what makes the NEF such an important platform for these groundbreaking discoveries, to inspire the next generation of the continent's change makers.