Albert agisha ntwali was resigned to becoming a maths teacher at a secondary school. The 23-year-old from Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo was a stellar undergraduate at his local university. But his career options seemed limited until a professor told him about the African Institute of Mathematical Science (aims), a network of postgraduate academies that offers scholarships to budding African mathematicians. Last year Mr Ntwali enrolled at the aims campus in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. “Now I can join a company, become a data scientist, do a phd…” He goes giddy listing the options.
For decades there were few possibilities for African mathematicians to reach their potential on the continent. Many gave up studying; others went abroad. Wilfred Ndifon, a Cameroon-born biologist who oversees research at aims, recalls that after he completed his phd at Princeton in 2009, he was put off from returning home by the lack of computing power. “Universities mostly used Excel,” he says.