on Friday, 28 February 2014. Posted in maths, science & technology

0.0/5 rating (0 votes)

There are many humanitarian issues at play across the continent. Despite challenges such as droughts, famine and infectious diseases, the African Union (AU) recognised the need to invest in science as critical to finding solutions to those very same problems. In March 2010, African Ministers of Science met in Egypt where they declared 2011 – 2020 the ‘Decade for Science in Africa’. The intention of this programme is to keep science and technology at the forefront of the continent’s political agenda. Specifically, the meeting stated that the decision was made in recognition of ‘the challenges that AU member states are facing in harnessing science and technology for socio-economic development and the need to sensitise the African Community to engage the AU leaders in science and technology.

The African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology (AMCOST) bureau was appointed the implementing agency for the initiative, with the assistance of the African Union Commission (AUC) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad). Under the leadership of Egypt as chair and South Africa as co-chair, the AMCOST Bureau has contributed as follows:

  • It supported South Africa’s bid for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope, which South Africa successfully obtained jointly with Australia.
  • It urged Member States to put in place programmes that promote informal science education to cultivate interest in science among children and youth.
  • It urged Member States to develop special capacity building programmes that lead to greater participation of women and youth in the field of science.
  • It proposed the establishment of the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostic Innovation (ANDI), an ongoing initiative on building health innovation capacity in Africa.
  • Education in science and technology with an emphasis on youth and women.
  • Professional and technical competence building.
  • Innovation and job creation.

As part of the African Decade of Science and Technology, the AU has initiated the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024. This strategy’s vision of the future of Africa visualises:

In terms of priority areas, the strategy will focus on developing policies and programmes to enhance access to basic health, education and employable skills underpinned by investment in science, research and innovation. The expected output is to promote strategic investments and policies in science, research and innovation to improve Africa’s global competitiveness. The Strategy further proposes the following interventions for the Science, Technology and Innovation programme, namely:

  1. Strengthen and consolidate training and research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
  2. Enhance teacher development in STEM.
  3. Promote actions to advance science technology and innovation in Africa.
  4. Support the implementation of the Consolidated Plan of Action for Science & Technology.
  5. Support implementation of the AUC frameworks for Biodiversity, Bio-safety and Bioethics.
  6. Establish and implement African Space and Technology Policy, programmes and strategic pan-African institutions and networks.

The strategic direction proposed by the strategy 2014 – 2024 are based on three pillars: 1) Build infrastructure base for innovation led development; 2) Enhance technical competence, and; 3) Stimulation of Entrepreneurship.

1) Build Infrastructure, base for innovation led development

  • Seeks to build engineering capacity, enhance domestic materials and provide opportunities for learning.
  • Ensure that Africa develops the skills needed to design, execute and maintain projects as well as stimulate the production of construction materials and services.
  • Enable the continent to realise the full value of such investment in creating jobs, and stimulating entrepreneurship and industrial growth.
  • Supports the growth of the technical competence needed to achieve and sustain economic development strategy.
  • Focuses on developing the human resource through:
  • Advanced education and lifelong learning opportunities.
  • Creation of more research-intensive tertiary education platforms.
    • Increasing the stock of African Research & Development facilities.
    • Focus on human capacity development will be at both higher education and lower level with the aim of creating scientific human capacity and a science culture amongst young professionals.
    • The targets of these efforts are:
    • To increase the number of Africans trained in STI.
    • To increase the research output at national and regional level.
    • To promote the expansion of research-intensive universities and research centres on the continent.
      • Facilitate the application of S&T to develop new products and process for solving problems and bottlenecks
      • Build entrepreneurial capacity to stimulate the movement of innovative ideas to the market
      • Focus on building African countries innovation-based competitiveness (collectively and individually) on the global market while ensuring that its citizenry have access to essential needs for an active and productive life.

2) Enhance technical competence

3) Stimulation of Entrepreneurship

With the focus on science and technology through the declaration of the African Decade of Science and Technology, supported by the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy 2014 – 2024, African states should create an environment that will stimulate innovation, as well as develop and strengthen the sciences across levels and sectors. The growth potential for such is high in Africa. It will be even more relevant if African scientists and innovators find local solutions to local problems. In this way, there will be greater interest and equity by Africans in the development and implementation of solutions to humanitarian issues on the continent. This sentiment is echoed by the founder of the Africa Innovation Foundation Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, who said: ‘It’s the only way to address or gain real contact with the population. If one understands what the population needs in a very innovative way and how to resolve the problems of these needs, you are going to create jobs, which I believe is what Africa needs.’ He further stated that when Africans come up with their own self-sustainable innovations, it ‘creates a spirit of belief, gives back pride, and it gives hope that African innovation is possible.’

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.

latest comments

related links