Through modeling, mathematics offers applications in all fields. For example, they have contributed to the management of COVID-19 by helping to determine peak periods. We should increase the involvement of mathematicians in solving development problems, according to Christian Wilfrid Diankabakana.
The use of mathematics is an asset for the development of Africa. This argument was widely supported during the 10e Pan African Mathematics Congress (PACOM 2022) held from 2 to 6 August 2022 in Brazzaville at Congo.
Franck Langa, lecturer at the Faculty of Sciences and technologies from the Marien Ngouabi University in Brazzaville, asserts that today, Africa needs mathematics for its development in several fields such as medicine, transportation...
By way of example, it draws on the management of the pandemic of COVID-19 which did not spare the Congo. “We had difficulty estimating the peak of the disease in order to allow decision-makers to make containment decisions,” he explains.
“And through mathematical models, which we call modeling, we had worked out the question and estimated the peak for July 11. Which was a success. It is a model of development”, supports the academic.
In one document produced by Mazen Saad of the Jean Leray–France mathematics laboratory of the Ecole centrale de Nantes (France), “mathematical modeling is the art (or science) of representing (or transforming) a physical reality into abstract models accessible to analysis and calculation. »
The same source adds that “mathematical modeling and numerical simulation have taken on considerable importance in recent decades in all fields of science and industrial applications (or engineering sciences). »
"A lot of models have been made and it is these models that allow governments to react to such pandemics", explains the academic.
Asked by SciDev.Net, Yanick Alain Servais Wellot, teacher at the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Marien Ngouabi University, adds by saying that the climate change, the problem of waste, the management of cities, the silting up of the courses ofwater, disasters, sediment transport, etc. are physical phenomena that must be understood.
"And this is done by taking the physical situation, bringing it back to mathematical equations for the understanding of the phenomenon and this helps us to explain to political decision-makers the resolutions to be taken", specifies the latter.
However, for mathematics to be able to effectively contribute to the development of Africa, "we must first talk about the development of mathematics in Africa", believes Olivier Menoukeu Pamen, a teacher at the University of Liverpool in England.
"Because mathematics has applications in several aspects that could help the development of Africa, especially in medicine, meteorology, finances, in aviation, in the energy sector, telecoms,engineering and on the issue of climate change,” he explains.
"So, we will have to be able to study mathematical models that would allow us to help people formalize activities, even if they are in the informal sector, and to be able to secure them," says the teacher.
According to the participants at the Brazzaville conference, this contribution of mathematics also involves a dialogue to identify the problems that arise in various sectors through mathematical engineering, says Guy-Aymard Degla of the Institute of Mathematics and physical science at Benin.
"Yes, mathematics can help the continent to solve its development problems, because more and more researchers are aware of the fact that we must develop the applicability of mathematics," he said.
"To a real problem, we identify the variable, we model it and we solve it by relying on computer tools to have the numerical solution, analyze it and make projections, both economically, industrially and development ; thus arriving at a range of solutions to be proposed to political decision-makers, because scientists (mathematicians) do not decide in place of those in power”, points out Guy Aymard Degla.
But for this to materialize, the problem of the “disconnection between political and academic elites must first be resolved”, argues Mamadou Abdoul Diop of Gaston Berger University in Saint-Louis.*
This disconnection is expressed "by the tendency of non-involvement of mathematicians in the research solutions to development problems by decision-makers,” he explains.
Faced with this, Mouhamadou Dosso, lecturer in applied mathematics at the Félix Houphouet-Boigny University in Côte d'Ivoire, advocates beforehand a “unity of mathematicians” so that they can contribute to the development of Africa.
This article was published on the French version of SciDev.net and is reproduced with their permission.