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  • on 08.06.2015
  • at 02:11 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

Mauritius’s new president vows to boost science 0

Mauritius’s incoming president, scientist Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, has pledged to target science diplomacy and to export the island’s “good practices” in research. The government proposed Gurib-Fakim as the new president on 1 June, just days after then-president Rajkeswur Purryag resigned. The parliament confirmed her appointment today.

Gurib-Fakim is a chemistry researcher with a focus on medicinal plants. In an interview with SciDev.Net, she admits she has little political experience.

“This may be one of the reasons why [the government] chose me,” she tells SciDev.Net, explaining that the role is “apolitical”. In Mauritius, the president acts as a representative and does not belong to any political party.

As head of state, Gurib-Fakim plans to use her science background to boost science diplomacy in international negotiations and support research-based businesses in Mauritius.

“I’ve been an entrepreneur since I left academia,” she says.

Between 2004 and 2010, Gurib-Fakim was dean of the University of Mauritius’s science faculty, then pro vice-chancellor for teaching and learning. Since 2011, she has been managing director of Centre for Phytotherapy Research (CEPHYR), a private laboratory that studies active ingredients from plants. She is planning to continue being involved with the centre during her presidential term.

Gurib-Fakim wants to push for the development of bioparks and technology centres “to create wealth and jobs for young people”.

“Mauritius is a small country, but with lots of good practices to export,” including in science, she says, adding that the country needs stronger representation in international forums at both the African and global level.

Continue reading on SciDev.net

by Tania Rabesandratana

Photo Credit: Stephane Rinimba

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