UMBC partners with American Statistical Association to organize annual African International Conference on Statistics

Published: Apr 17, 2024

two men shake hands, one holding a large folder, while another looks on between them
Bimal Sinha (left), professor of statistics at UMBC, and Yehenew Kifle (center), assistant professor of statistics at UMBC, with N.M. Mokgalongs, president of University of Limpopo, at the 4th Annual African International Conference on Statistics. (Courtesy of Kifle)

The eighth iteration of the African International Conference on Statistics (AIC), scheduled for June 2024 in Tunis, Tunisia, will mark a new era for the conference. Originally championed by Bimal Sinha, UMBC professor of statistics, the first AIC took place in 2014 in Senegal. Each conference since has been held in a different African country in collaboration with local institutions. 

In 2018, relationships that grew out of the conference led UMBC to sign a collaborative agreement with the University of Limpopo in South Africa to foster academic exchange. At that time, Yehenew Kifle, assistant professor of statistics, was a visiting professor at UMBC and a faculty member at the University of Limpopo. Today he has taken the helm of the AIC from the soon-to-retire Sinha, who remains a core member of the planning committee. 

two men facing the camera, more people mingling in the background
Bimal Sinha and Barry Nussbaum, former president of the American Statistical Association and current member of the AIC planning committee, at UMBC’s Probability and Statistics Day event in 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Moura)

This April, Kifle signed an agreement with the American Statistical Association (ASA) on behalf of UMBC that pledges financial support from the ASA for the conference for at least the next two years, with the possibility for an extended partnership. 

“Through the African International Conference on Statistics, we achieved a significant milestone in 2018 by signing the first UMBC memorandum of understanding with an African university, which supports training for African students on a short- and long-term basis,” Kifle says. “Now we stand as partners with the world’s largest statistical association, the American Statistical Association. This partnership with ASA lays the foundation for great optimism about a promising future for the AIC.”

two people sitting at a table pass a folder between them; two others look on in the background
Jesika Singh, University of Limpopo (center left), and Antonio Moreira, vice provost for academic affairs at UMBC (center right), sign the agreement between UMBC and the University of Limpopo in 2018.

The theme of the 2024 AIC is “Empowering Innovation: Advanced Statistics and Data Science for Sustainable Development in Africa.” The theme speaks to the power of statistics to support progress in areas like agriculture, economic development, and environmental conservation that are relevant to people all over the world.

“ASA is delighted to partner with UMBC on the African International Conference on Statistics,” shares Ronald Wasserstein, executive director of ASA. “The AIC has established itself as an important contributor to advancing statistical science in Africa. We hope ASA’s support will provide the opportunity for the creative and enthusiastic minds at UMBC to take the conference to still higher levels.”

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