Mission and Brief History
Africa STEM Network (Afrisnet) is a nonprofit organization that seeks to increase the overall participation of Africans in global and modern research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Afrisnet is dedicated to advancing the contribution of Africans to global research in STEM. There is a grave imbalance between population growth and research development in Africa. Currently, Africa comprises 16% of the total world population, while contributing less than 2% of the global research output. This means that competent Africans lack access to cutting-edge research, and that the contribution of Africans to the global research enterprise is severely limited. Following a people-centered philosophy and with a focus on college students, Afrisnet strives to educate and mentor Africans in research, and to expose them to research practice through internships and research-based graduate programs in STEM fields at advanced universities and institutes. Afrisnet leverages primarily the fully-funded STEM graduate programs in the United States (US) to expose African students to hands-on laboratory research experience. We foster relevant research collaborations between Africa-based researchers and those in the United States, and we are dedicated to empowering the mentorship of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Afrisnet uses its website to also expand awareness of and access to research information in Africa, to communicate significant STEM research news from around the world, and to offer a networking platform to students, faculty, and professionals.
We are always seeking individuals that are willing and capable of helping us fulfill our mission. If you have any questions about our organization or would like to get involved, please contact us here. You can also visit our participation page, to read about specific ways in which you can participate.
In August, 2013, Dr. Gabriel Gihana enrolled in Ph.D. program in Biology at Indiana University Bloomington. He quickly realized that he was the only African graduate student in the entire Biology Department, which included many international students. In order to know how much African students were underrepresented at other US institutions, Dr. Gihana reached out to Vincent Mwumvaneza, his colleague who was pursuing a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Mwumvaneza had also observed that there were fewer African students in his program compared to other international students. When they contacted their respective graduate programs, Dr. Gihana and Mwumvaneza learned that very few African students applied to those programs, and those who did apply were severely unprepared. Many institutions in the United States, including Indiana University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, waive tuition and provide financial assistance to competent graduate students. This is in addition to the fact that these institutions host world-renown research faculty and facilities, leading to strong research performance and output. As a consequence, US universities have attracted large numbers of students from all over the world. Dr. Gihana and Mwumvaneza wanted to increase the participation of African students in research-based graduate programs in the United States, specifically in STEM fields.
In 2015, Dr. Gihana and Mwumvaneza started reaching out to college students in Africa via social media to inform them about the opportunities provided by graduate schools in the US. As they interacted with African college students, they realized that these students were academically competent but lacked critical information and exposure to attain the standards of graduate programs at leading universities. In an effort to expand their outreach to and impact on African students around the globe, Dr. Gihana and Mwumvaneza decided to establish a nonprofit organization. In May 2019, Afrisnet was incorporated in the State of Georgia, USA. As an organization, Afrisnet continues to make efforts to increase the exposure of Africans to modern research across the globe, primarily in the United States. The enrollment of African students not only benefits the students themselves but also diversifies and enhances the intellectual and cultural dimensions of the universities they attend.