Africa leaders have shown commitment in supporting the continent’s youth to build tomorrow’s society through innovation.
This was done at the just concluded third edition of the Africa Forum on Science, Technology, and Innovation, held in Cairo, Egypt, on February 10-12, where ministers and heads of delegations were in attendance.
The edition themed “Enhancing the competitiveness of the African private sector and transforming Africa through science, technology, and innovation”, ties with the African Development Bank’s strategy and its priorities for the development of the continent, known as the High 5s.
It focused on innovation in five sectors chosen for their strong potential to stimulate and transform Africa’s economies, which are; climate change, nutrition, water, ICT and the pharmaceutical industry.
According to the “Cairo Declaration” made at the end of the Forum, Science, Technology, and Innovation is also expected to be high on national, regional and continental development agendas, a press statement released on AFDB’s website stated.
Akinwumi Adesina, AFDB’s president said: “Africa needs to promote a culture of innovation driven by Africa’s youth.”
The statement was made at the opening session of the Forum, attended by the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, African Ministers, researchers and partners on Saturday, February 10.
The Forum, according to the statement, pledged to support the development of an African Education Fund to attract sustainable financing in collaboration with the African Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and other financial institutions.
The leaders pledged to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in innovative fields, such as electronics, computer science, automation, and telecommunications, by encouraging the private sector to develop platforms and incubators for start-ups.
The Declaration also committed to design and adopt policies that promote gender equality in education and higher education in Science, Technology, Engendering and Mathematics (STEM) in particular, and in student participation, teacher training, professional development, academic and administrative staffing, and research and development.
Oley Dibba-Wadda, Director of human capital, youth and skills development at AFDB said that “The bank is prepared to work with African governments and partners to advance STI on the continent by playing a strategic role in raising awareness and strategically working with African countries on smart investments in STI for Africa’s growth and competitiveness.”
On her path, Sarah Anyang Agbor, African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science, and Technology said the Cairo Declaration would help reframe and re-orient the regional body’s programmes and policies.
She stated that “Our greatest potential is our people! Africa is in a position to harvest the fruits of a demographic dividend, especially the young population, whose energy, creativity and courage must drive Africa’s development. Investing in their education, technical competences and training, therefore, remains critical to us.”
However, she regretted that, many Africans were not yet committed, despite the commitment by its leaders to increase research and development expenditures to at least 1% of GDP.
Yongsoo Hwang, Senior Research Fellow Emeritus at the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI) in the Republic of Korea, said the Korean Government was willing to support Africa’s transformation initiatives for industrialization and to improve people’s lives, based on Korea’s experiences in socio-economic transformation.
AFDB co-hosted the third Africa Science, Technology and Innovation Forum with the support of Korea, Japan, and other partners, part of its programmes in promoting science, technology, and innovation on the continent.