#AlumOfTheWeek – Hewan Leul Kedane, AIMS South Africa Alumna

African youth are passionate, daring and ambitious to get the continent beyond its current status. However, the ambitions of these brilliant youth are cut short by a lack of support from their immediate family or the community at large; that is where the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) comes in. With the vision to lead the transformation of Africa through innovative scientific training, technical advances and breakthrough discoveries, AIMS is bridging the gap between Africa and the rest of the world. This week on the #AlumoftheWeek series, we present to you what one of our alumni is doing to solve the connectivity issues in Africa. From the 2019 Class of AIMS South Africa, Hewan Leul Kedane is our Alumna of the Week.

Growing up in Ethiopia, Hewan developed a strong interest in mathematics, which fueled her desire to study for her undergraduate degree. She proceeded to study for a Master’s degree in Mathematical Optimization, but she describes both experiences as one that lacked the practical application of concepts introduced to her. In her own words, she states that AIMS taught her to believe that most problems in this world can be solved mathematically.

“Joining AIMS, I realised that every mathematical concept requires practical experience and skills to apply maths in solving real-life problems.”

One significant problem that quickly comes to mind regarding Africa is the internet connectivity issue. Staying connected knit a community and a family together no matter how many miles apart they may be. For nothing at all, COVID-19 taught us that life could run smoothly without people physically present. But this can only be possible if internet and telecommunication connectivity run seamlessly. However, checks reveal that over 4 billion people still do not have access to the internet, and 90 per cent of this number live in developing countries. This situation burdens Hewan, and she aspires to bring an end to the problem.

After her studies at AIMS South Africa, Hewan secured a scholarship that enabled her to enrol in PhD studies at the Polytechnique Montreal University, Canada. Her research focuses on Network Design for Tactical Wireless Communication, an area that she believes will go a long way to improve the connectivity challenges currently troubling the continent.

“According to the African e-Connectivity Index 2021, Africa has the lowest number of Internet connections, and only 28 per cent of the continent has internet access. This situation means my research will significantly impact Africa to share equal access to information and knowledge.”

This is why Hewan chose to study at AIMS and how that has been beneficial to her:

“I chose AIMS because I heard much about it from the past students and was excited to be part of it. After I joined, I felt like I didn’t know anything. I felt like I started studying from class zero because the learning system at AIMS was different from back home. Even though that disturbed me for a moment, one of my friends expressed that she had the same feeling. That statement from my friend changed everything for me. I felt that I wasn’t alone, and the best way to get the best out of the problem is to give it my best. I decided from that day to learn very well and be the best for Africa and the world. Now I am a young woman with a lot of knowledge in mathematical science.”