China wants to train Africa’s next generation of scientists. Its goal is to improve African science in fields from agriculture and climate change to quantum physics and artificial intelligence.

The training is one element of a much larger plan adopted by Chinese and African leaders at the third Summit of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation in Beijing last month. Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged US$50 billion in grants and loans for infrastructure projects, medical programmes, clean-energy initiatives and other projects in Africa. Chinese companies will invest another $10 billion. The amount dedicated to training scientists is not known.

But some policy experts and scientists worry that African nations might become too reliant on other countries to provide training. Others doubt that the initiatives will truly boost African science, as similar projects planned at past forums have yet to produce noticeable benefits.

Few details have been released about how the money will be distributed among countries. But the division is likely to be controversial, says Lina Benabdallah, who studies Chinese foreign policy in Africa at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “It will be up to African leaders, political elites and their constituents to press for specific programmes to happen,” she says. – Source: nature.com

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