The Crystal Gardens campus of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) Cameroon in Limbe was solemn yesterday, 1st of February 2021, as students and staff led by the Chief Academic Officer of the AIMS Global Network, Professor Dr. Mama Foupouagnigni, welcomed the visiting Chief Executive Officer of the AIMS Global Network, Ms Lydie Hakizimana.

“We are so delighted to have you, a CEO, an entrepreneur, a passionate teacher, and above all, a mother to us and the entire AIMS network,” the student delegate Naomi Soko said on behalf of the 8th Cohort of AIMS-Cameroon enrolled in the Structured Master’s Degree Programme in Mathematical Sciences. While presenting AIMS-Cameroon to the Guest, Zambian-born Naomi Soko noted that AIMS-Cameroon was the fourth Center of Excellence to be established in 2013 with a mission to enable Africa’s brightest students to flourish as independent thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators capable of propelling Africa’s future scientific, educational and economic self-sufficiency.

In a rich exchange with the 37 students from 7 African countries, Ms Hakizimana listened to the students’ challenges and reasons why they preferred AIMS Cameroon, suggestions for innovation and their plans after graduating from the institution.

In a motherly tone, Ms Hakizimana urged the students to treasure the learning opportunity of having a full-funded scholarship to study in a pan-African university and advised them forge long term relationships among themselves because in ten years some of them would be Ministers, Directors and much more in their countries.

To help the students better envisage their careers after AIMS, Ms Hakizimana showed interest in how they are going to use Mathematics to solve problems back home in the continent. Using the recent creation by some AIMS Rwanda researchers of a mathematical model to improve on COVID-19 Testing, she told the students that they had an opportunity while at AIMS to think about what they want to do in future. She also encouraged them to talk often with tutors; some of whom are alumni of AIMS and to go after their dreams.  “The team here and myself are here to serve you and to give you the best opportunity to realise your dream. You should not stop dreaming. Let us know how we can help you achieve your dreams. This is a lifetime opportunity that you have. We are a network and want to make sure students have the best,” she reassured the students.

The students suggested that people from institutions should be invited to deliver talks about problems in Cameroon. Ms Hakizimana welcomed the idea which the Academic Director of AIMS-Cameroon, Professor Marco Garuti said was already happening in the institution. “We will invite more entrepreneurs, policy makers and politicians to come and talk to you about real life situations as they do in the US. Covid-19 is a limiting factor to invite people, but we are going to try. But you can make suggestions of people you will like to hear from that we can invite here to talk to you,” explained the CEO.

In the same vein, the Chief Academic Officer of the AIMS Global Network, Prof. Dr. Mama Foupouagnigni used examples from past students to say that the institution is always open to proposals from students.

The students handed a Toghu-Fashioned embroidered Black Gown as gift at the end of the interactive session which was followed by meetings with tutors and staff.

Ms Hakizimana will meet several administrative, municipal and academic authorities today in Fako Division and participate in the signing of a Partnership Agreement between the University of Buea and AIMS-Cameroon. She is accompanied on her trip to Cameroon by the AIMS Chief Strategy and Partnership Officer, Mr Momar Dieng. The CEO will also visit the AIMS Teacher Training Program in Yaounde before leaving for Kigali in Rwanda which hosts the Secretariat of AIMS Global Network.