Collaborating with the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences on the 2014-15 Web Index

This year, we were pleased to partner with the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in the production of the 2014-15 Web Index, released on December 11.

The Web Foundation began our relationship with AIMS — a pan-African network of centres for postgraduate education, research and outreach in the mathematical sciences — in early 2014. Over the course of the year, we have worked closely with AIMS and a team of four statisticians, led by Dr. Siaka Lougue, to analyse primary and secondary data from across the 86 countries included in this year’s Web Index. Working with Web Index Research Director Dr Hania Farhan, Dr. Lougue and his team crunched numbers, developed regression analyses, extracted trends, and provided support and insights critical to understanding just how the Web is contributing to social, economic and political progress around the world.

Founded in Cape Town in 2003, AIMS provides post-graduate education in the maths and science fields for talented students recruited from across Africa. While almost one million students graduate from African universities each year, high-level training — particularly in the scientific and technical fields — is hard to come by and, as a result, few graduates continue into higher education. Of those few that do continue on to post-graduate programmes, an even smaller number remain in Africa after graduation, leading to a decline of mathematical and scientific expertise across the continent. AIMS is working to counter this trend. The Institute operates as a partnership between African and international universities and has already seen great success — more than 731 students (30% of them women) from 41 African countries have graduated from AIMS-South Africa, AIMS-Senegal, AIMS-Ghana and AIMS-Cameroon, and most of these alumni have gone on to Masters and PhD programmes.

The team of four with whom we worked on the development of the 2014-15 Web Index come from across Africa and two of them, including Dr. Lougue, are themselves graduates of the AIMS programme. We would like to thank Dr. Lougue, Dr. Tchilabalo Abozou Kpanzou, Innocent Karangwa, Aristide Romaric Bado, and the entire AIMS team for their great work. We will be collaborating with AIMS again on future Web Foundation projects, and are glad to be part of the effort to support the development and deployment of statistical skills in Africa.