Arusha — THIS week, Arusha will be pivoting the continent's occasion to mark the birthday of Nelson Mandela, the former South African President, who died last December but likely to come alive here in the next five days.
"As many of you are already aware, this year's Nelson Mandela Innovation Week features the Pan African Conference on Science, Computing and Telecommunication (PACT)," explained Dr Eliamani Laltaika, one of the event coordinator who added that the conference is being held for the first time in both Tanzania and East African Region, bringing into Arusha leading experts in ICT from around the world.
Dr Laltaika who is also a lecturer in law specialising in Intellectual Property IP and Biodiversity Laws and Policies at the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, said the simultaneous opening of both the PACT and the NM Innovation Week will also feature renowned poet who is also Managing Director of the Arusha International Conference Centre, Mr Elishilia Kaaya who shall recite a verse dedicated to the late Madiba.
Few will recall that Nelson Mandela also long time ago lived in Arusha at the turn of the new Millennium circa 1999-2000 while serving the role of Burundi Peace Mediator.
Even from his grave the late Madiba returns to Arusha this week, bringing experts in Information Communication Technology who are here to answer questions like 'What is the difference between a scientist in Isaac Newton's era and that of the 21st century? What would Archimedes do if he were here today and had a computer? Do people have any rights to protection of their personal data and privacy on the internet?'
The ICT experts will also deal with recent global query; regarding the right to be forgotten by Google, Bing and other search engines that have been displaying not only information but also images, even those erroneously posted on the net, intending to let them remain there forever.
The week at NM-AIST according to official release from the institution, will be full of brainy presentations in inter-disciplinary perspectives in fields such as energy, food science and nutrition, climate change, ethics, preschool education, etc.
Next Friday the 18th of July being the birthday of Nelson Mandela (if Madiba was alive he will be celebrating his 96th year on earth) but being dead, Arusha has decided to play the role of honouring this Africa's great son with the Climax of the Nelson Mandela's Innovation Week.
The NM-AIST Vice- Chancellor Prof Burton Mwamila will be presenting a paper on the "Legacy of Nelson Mandela in the Enhancement of Science and Technology in Africa," to be followed by the Nobel Symposium a 'next level' event which according to organisers will make this year's NM Innovation Week extra ordinary, courtesy of Prof Eugen Park.
Six brain-trust speakers will light up the symposium through poking into the lives and brains of legendary Nobel laureates in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Economics, Peace and Literature to encourage even ordinary mortals to do ordinary things in extra ordinary ways.
Dr Laltaika sums it up nicely; "Although presenters are experts in their selected field, their presentations shall not be on Chemistry or Physics or else I wouldn't have dared to be there...many lawyers wouldn't anyway; instead it will be about individuals and their extraordinary efforts.
And 'When all is said and done,' the Arusha Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Magesa Mulongo is expected to present various prizes to participants, speakers and other deserving individuals during the closing ceremony.
Based in Tengeru area, the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology of Arusha is one in a network of Pan-African Institutes of Science and Technology across the continent, established as brainchild of the late Nelson Mandela.
The African Institute of Science and Technology (AIST) is a university system concept aimed at bringing the highest level of technical learning facilities, representing a global effort to foster Sub-Saharan Africa's economic growth and development through the promotion of excellence in science and engineering and their applications.
Tanzania was the first to construct the first such AIST bearing Madiba's name, with Nigeria building the second, but the ultimate vision was to develop four campuses in the north, south, east and west of the continent. NM-AIST envision to train and develop the next generation of African scientists and engineers so that they may make an impact on the continent's development through application of science, engineering and technology.
The institutes, including the one in Arusha are being developed to become world class research intensive training institutions for postgraduates and post-docs in science, engineering and technology related fields.
Initially, the fields of study being covered by NM-AIST take advantage of the immense bio-diversity in countries forming its catchment area, covering life sciences and bio-engineering; mathematics, computational and communication science and engineering.
Others include water resources and environmental science and engineering; materials science and engineering and sustainable energy science and engineering.