Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS)

Exchange of views with officials of COMSATS’ Centre of Excellence in Nigeria

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Prof. Stephen E. Onah, Director of COMSATS Centre of Excellence in Nigeria, National Mathematical Centre (NMC), Abuja, visited COMSATS Secretariat on 19th January 2018 to discuss matters of mutual interest. These included NMC’s role in COMSATS’ programmes especially International Thematic Research Groups (ITRGs), the Centre’s academic, R&D and capacity building activities, as well as possibilities of upgrading the Centre for becoming an international Centre.

Prof. Onah was given a presentation by Mr. Tajammul Hussain, Advisor (Programmes), with a special focus on the follow-ups of 20th Coordinating Council Meeting. A highlight point was collaboration between NMC and CIIT and other Centres of Excellence, and Member States of COMSATS. Mr. Hussain mentioned that the installment for the second phase of project headed by NMC under the umbrella of COMSATS’ ITRG on Mathematical Modeling shall be released by ISESCO upon the submission of progress report and revised project proposal.

Referring to visit of the Head of Mathematics department, CIIT, Prof. Dr. Moiz-ud-din Khan to NMC, Mr. Tajammul Hussain was optimistic that the visit will open new doors of collaboration between the two institutions to initiate joint research projects. Such collaboration could help in enhancing indigenous capacities and launching PhD and Post-doc fellowship programmes. He stressed upon the need for identifying the professionals from CIIT and NMC to work on the joint research projects.

He, furthermore, shared his views on developing a database to collect relevant information and identify potential partners to establish joint research projects in Mathemetical Modelling. He noted that NMC can act as information hub of COMSATS in relevant fields by pioneering such projects.

Prof. Onah noted that ITRG on Mathematical Modelling being headed by Prof. Benjamin O. Oyelami has made publications. Research work under the group has implications for a number of different fields including: air and water pollution on human health, and climate change. He also identified a number of areas with useful applications of Mathematical Modeling that need further R&D, such as crime detection.

With regard to collaboration between NMC and CIIT, he noted that correspondence between NMC and Department of Mathematics, CIIT is under way through meetings at CIIT. He hoped to soon identify potential areas of collaboration in Mathematical Sciences to create relevant groups. Such ground work could pave way for officiating the joint work to be done by the two Centres of Excellence by means of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

Prof. Onah sought COMSATS’ support for NMC in helping the Centre to become a hub in Africa for mathematical and computer sciences. Moreover, he also urged COMSATS officials to render advocacy support to help expedite release of funds for proposals submitted to Nigeria’s National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The proposition of providing technical facilities to NMC was made in order to facilitate the networking and communication between NMC and other Centres of Excellence.

Prof. Onah admired the efforts of Dr. Zaidi towards the promotion of higher education in Nigeria through the provision of scholarships and fellowships from the platform of COMSATS. Prof. Onah also suggested that PhD students from both NMC and COMSATS should not only be involved in exchange programmes, but should also be engaged for conducting research on mathematics at institution level.

Dr. Zaidi thanked Prof. Onah for his visit to the Secretariat and recalled that NMC is one of the first centres to join the COMSATS’ Network. Expressing his desire of uplifting the research and development at NMC, Dr. Zaidi noted that COMSATS is ready to provide all kind of support in this regard. Dr. Zaidi encouraged NMC to prepare proposals to be submitted to the institutions from the North for soliciting funds and expertise.

Dr. Zaidi was of the opinion that as per COMSATS’ initial aspirations for NMC, the Centre should be upgraded and developed into a world class institute for Mathematical studies of interest to North and the South alike. He was of the view that COMSATS should establish linkages with institutions from the North, for which the Centre may be upgraded to make it more suited for such exchanges. On the flip side, he was of the view that the Centre could immediately be able to help other institutions of Africa by providing expertise and academic opportunities.

Dr. Zaidi urged to reach out to the relevant government functionaries to advocate the need for enhancement of annual budget for NMC.