About NMI

 

BRIEF PRESENTATION OF THE NELSON MANDELA INSTITUTION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF KNOWLEDGE IN AFRICA (NMI)

The Nelson Mandela Institution (NMI) was established in 2004 to help narrow the gap between Sub Saharan African (SSA) countries and the rest of the world in science and technology. Using seed money from the World Bank and a strong endorsement by the African Heads of States, NMI designed a program to set up centers of excellence in Science and Technology (S&T) in SSA. This initiative also received strong support from the governments of Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Tanzania. NMI now has three affiliated centers of excellence devoted to graduate education in S&T: the African University of Science and Technology (AUST) in Abuja, Nigeria, The International Institute of Water and Environment (2iE) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) in Arusha, Tanzania.

The World Bank provided seed capital to NMI while other international organizations such as the African Development Bank and the African Capacity Building Foundation have also provided generous grants to NMI and its affiliates. Partnerships with top-level universities or institutes from the US, Europe and Africa have also played a major role in the evolution of NMI and its affiliates.

NMIs objective is to launch a global effort to support the creation of world-class learning institutions or centers of excellence in Africa. This objective is being achieved through: (i) the establishment of  campuses in different regions of Sub-Saharan Africa with a focus initially on graduate education in science & technology; (ii) the use of a merit-based common entrance exam to select the best and brightest students with the potential to become leaders, regardless of their capacity to pay for the tuition; (iii) the engagement of leading international scientists and engineers, and African Diaspora and other distinguished professors in teaching, research and outreach to industry and the community (turn brain drain to brain circulation); (iv) the adoption of a transparent approach to governance and fundraising; (v) the establishment of partnerships, networks/linkages with other universities in and outside Africa, and industry to diffuse knowledge and innovation across Africa.

AUST is the first wholly-owned NMI Centre of Excellence institution. It is currently a graduate only pan-African institution of higher learning in Science and Technology which offers Masters and Doctoral degree programs in five scientific disciplines: Computer Science and Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Theoretical and Applied physics, Material Science, and Pure and Applied Mathematics. Post-graduate certificate programs are under consideration.

Since it opened its doors for business in 2008, AUST has enrolled 428 Masters Degree students, 72 of whom were females while 281 of those admitted have graduated. For the Ph.D. program, a total of 80 have been admitted and 10 have already graduated, with most of the others slated to graduate in the next few months. Many of the Ph.D. students also transferred to well-known universities in Europe and the US to finish their programs based on their outstanding performance. Reflecting AUSTs truly Pan-African nature, the students have come from 17 African countries.

AUSTs graduates have found success in academia, government and industry. In most cases, they find jobs within six months, working in industry, academia or government. The Petroleum Engineering graduates are highly sought after by industry, and many of the graduates in Petroleum Engineering earn more in Africa than they can earn in Europe or North America. An important number of students work at Nigerian Universities, while pursuing their Ph.D. at AUST. AUSTs interactions with industry has enabled it to train students with skills that are relevant to industry. Partners include companies such as Total, Schlumberger, Exxon-Mobil, Oando, Tulour and Addax, which have hired all generations of AUST graduates across Africa. Similarly, several African Universities have also hired AUST graduates to start new departments in Materials Science and Engineering and Petroleum Engineering. Other universities have hired AUSTs graduates to strengthen their emerging departments of Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science.

Further, recognizing the quality of AUSTs work, many African universities are sending their Ph.D. students and young Ph.D graduates to get further training at AUST, making it one of the institutions that train the trainers.

AUSTs current model is to have a small number of resident faculty, usually the heads of the five streams of academic endeavor: pure and applied mathematics, computer science, theoretical and applied physics, petroleum engineering, and material science. Resident faculty are complemented by distinguished visiting faculty from first-rate universities in Europe and North America and Africa. A large number of the visiting faculty have been Africans from the diaspora.

A key principle of NMI, as concerns AUST particularly, is that no student who has been admitted through the strict AUST admission standards should be prevented from attending AUST because he/she is financially deprived. This is why AUST is constantly looking for benefactors to fund scholarships for its students and to also fund its other legitimate needs such as infrastructure including equipment, and faculty.