Carry out the science

Ethiopia has inaugurated an Africa Science Museum in the capital Addis Ababa, with the aim of creating a center of excellence for innovation. The Ethiopian Science and Arts Museum, funded by the Chinese government, is part of the country’s digital transformation and development efforts. Inaugurated in October 2022, on the sidelines of the first Pan-African Conference on Artificial Intelligence, this facility is Africa’s first science museum.

Powered by solar energy, the museum is a testament to the continent’s technological advancements. Surrounded by greenery, the museum complex stretches over seven hectares and contains two large sets of buildings. At the inauguration ceremony, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the museum will serve as a platform for scientific innovation to support Ethiopia’s growth and development.

The impressive domed museum aims to promote science and innovative activities in the country, while serving as a hub for various research activities related to the digital sector. Above all, the museum is meant to serve as an incubator for young people, giving them a unique place to research, explore and invent.

More than half of the museum is owned by the government company Ethio Telecom, the country’s telecommunications giant. Ethio Telecom communications director Mesay Woubshet told CHINAFRICA that the museum can provide technological facilities for various sectors such as mining, tourism, education, transportation and housing.

Center for Research and Technology

Although the museum is dedicated to creating a center for research and innovative products developed by young people, it also provides students with various educational facilities dedicated to smart education. According to Woubshet, this will enable the country to compete globally by nurturing a game-changing generation in science and technology. “We’ve done a lot to add different components that will help young people learn about robotics and other technologies,” he said.

According to him, by strengthening the scientific skills of young people, the museum allows entrepreneurs to bring their creative products to life by providing them with materials that will actively develop them.

CHINAFRIQUE spoke to a visitor to the museum, Saron Abraham, 17, who is interested in robotics. He said he saw many interesting things, starting with the amazing architectural design. “The different technologies I saw made me think about the future and develop new ideas related to scientific discoveries and technologies. »

Although Saron asked his parents to enroll him in robotics school, they could not afford the fees. “I hope the museum will help me and I will use this opportunity to develop my skills in science and technology,” she said. He also thinks the museum will inspire more young people to become researchers by helping them put into practice what they learn in theory at school. However, he wants the museum to partner with schools so that students have easy access to hands-on exercises.

Tewodros Demise, a student at the Addis Ababa Institute of Technology, was also impressed by the museum. For him, the museum has many advantages: it allows him to focus on creativity and innovation and adds value to his academic knowledge.

In recent years, many young Ethiopians have shown interest in space science. On September 6, 2022, three taikonauts spoke to young people from eight African countries, including Ethiopia, from their space station via video link. The taikonauts, who are on a six-month mission, share their experience aboard the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft. The liaison, held at the headquarters of the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, is the first co-hosted by China and the African Union targeting youth.

A digital ambition

Ethiopia has a ten-year digital economy strategy, the implementation of which started two years ago. As a testament to the country’s commitment to the sector, Prime Minister Ahmed described the museum as a demonstration of Ethiopia’s interest in science and technology. The Prime Minister also expressed hope that the museum will encourage young people to think creatively and use the space as a “breeding ground for innovative ideas”.

Many stakeholders believe that the museum will play a central role in the country’s digital transformation strategies by bringing solutions to communities. Mr. Woubshet said that the museum’s digital facilities will help the development of sensitive sectors, such as transportation and health, by using 5G.

The inauguration of the museum included an exhibition of government institutions such as Ethio Telecom, the Institute of Artificial Intelligence and the Information Network Security Agency. Also on display were private tech start-ups showcasing some of the country’s solutions in healthcare, finance, cybersecurity, geographic information systems, industrial services, data analytics, manufacturing and robotics. The exhibition attracted nearly 360,000 visitors over three weeks.

Hailed as one of the greatest museums in Africa, the facility aims to generate income from admissions in the coming years, in addition to its contributions to various sciences. The museum is also expected to further preserve Ethiopia’s rich indigenous knowledge and art, as well as modern scientific and technological advances.

The museum building has different sections that are used for educational and research purposes, each with its unique topics and exhibits. This allows researchers to use laboratories with different types of equipment. The site will also serve various technology companies to establish networks for the expansion of their products and services.

Worku Gachena, director general of the Ethiopian Center for Artificial Intelligence, told Xinhua News Agency that the Chinese government is not only helping Ethiopia get a state-of-the-art museum, but also empowering Ethiopian experts. in artificial intelligence.

“We have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese government, including cooperation on optical character recognition for African languages. The Chinese are very supportive of artificial intelligence in capacity building in education and other sectors,” said Gachena.

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