Mission and Brief History
Africa STEM Network (Afrisnet) is an international network of students, professors, and professionals with a common goal of advancing research and scholarship in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in Africa. We are a nonprofit organization that seeks to increase the overall participation of Africans in global and modern research in STEM.
AFRISNET is dedicated to advancing scholarship in Africa by promoting development, access, and application of research. 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. Following a people-focused philosophy, Afrisnet strives to educate and mentor African students 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’s broad goals include leveraging the fully-funded STEM graduate programs in the United States (US) and other developed countries, fostering relevant research collaborations between Africa-based researchers and those in the US and elsewhere, and using our website to offer relevant information that African students need in order to apply and get admitted into outstanding research universities and institutes around the world. We make efforts to provide students with information about graduate school admission requirements, research internship opportunities, research fellowships, international conferences, and other information pertaining to STEM research in general. Afrisnet uses this 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 started courses and research towards a Ph.D. degree in Genome Cell and Developmental Biology at Indiana University Bloomington. It did not take him long to realize that he was the only African graduate student in the entire Biology Department, which included several 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, laying ground for 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 presence 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. Through this informal collaboration, Dr. Gihana and Mwumvaneza helped African students identify and apply to internships and graduate programs both in the US and Europe. 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 in developed countries. In an effort to expand their outreach to African students around the globe, Dr. Gihana and Mwumvaneza decided to establish a platform that would serve as both a clearinghouse and a networking channel to help African students gain access to information about research news and graduate schools around the world. With substantial assistance from Professor Armin Moczek (Indiana University), this effort led to the development and the publication of the Afrisnet website on July 10th, 2018. In May 2019, Afrisnet was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in the State of Georgia, USA. Dr. Gabriel Gihana, Vincent Mwumvaneza P.E, M.AScE, Dr. Armin Moczek, Dr. Soni Lacefield (Indiana University), Dr. Kwadwo Akuffo (Kwameh Nkurumah University of Science and Technology), and Dr. Victoria Perez (Indiana University) served as the initial members of the Afrisnet Board. As an organization, Afrisnet continues to make efforts to increase the exposure of African students to modern research in the US and around the world. 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.