Africa’s economy must invest in science in order to advance

December 17th, 2015, Published in Articles: EngineerIT, Uncategorised articles

Two powerful ladies assert that science is one of the most important initiatives for economic growth growth - Minister Naledi Pandor and Dr Dlamini-Zuma of the AU

Two powerful people assert that science is one of the most important initiatives for economic growth growth:- Minister Naledi Pandor and Dr. Dlamini-Zuma of the AU.

“Across the world nations increasingly seek to harness the potential of science as an instrument for growth and development. Science is also an integral part of the global effort to advance sustainable development”, said South Africa’s minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor at the opening of Science Forum South Africa (SFSA) which was hosted at the CSIR in Pretoria on 8 and 9 December 2015

“Our key motivation is to foster public engagement on science and technology, to showcase science in South Africa, and to provide a platform for building strong African and global partnerships,” Minister Pandor said. “”Unfortunately, science is still at the margins of government attention – seen as less significant than water scarcity, food security and disease burdens. Yet all of these can be addressed through science.”

Dr. Dlamini-Zuma echoed Minister Pandor’s sentiments. Unpacking the AU’s Africa Agenda 2063 (the AU’s blueprint for sustainable development for the continent), the AU chairperson highlighted that science was critical in growing and modernising every aspect of agriculture in Africa, from agricultural equipment to agroprocessing.

Dr. Dlamini-Zuma said that Africa Agenda 2063 also recognised the importance of investing in the continent’s young people, particular in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. She said that mathematics and science teachers needed to be trained.

Founder of Japan’s renowned Science and Technology in Society Forum, Koji Omi, said in his address that Africa had great potential, and could create a bright future through science and technology. He said Japan supported Africa’s endeavours to address its numerous challenges by sharing its knowledge.

Many institutions exhibited their projects and expertise at SFSA2015

Many institutions exhibited their projects and expertise at SFSA2015

Minister Pandor emphasised that SFSA is not a platform for resolutions or declarations. “We hope when the Forum closes delegates will leave determined to do least seven things.

“First to call on your governments and institutions to invest in Science and Innovation in Africa.

“Second, to devote increased attention to developing robust national systems of innovation.

“We must have eco systems that allow a smooth flow and take up of creative ideas from knowledge generating institutions through to enterprises and industry. We need joint industry research, public private partnerships, technology diffusion and movement of human capital.

“Third, communities must be informed about science and be encouraged to value the potential for development intrinsic to science, technology and innovation.

“Fourth, we must seek out and secure flagship science initiatives such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) as such initiatives have the potential to support training and production of the next generation of scientists and technologists in Africa. Scientists need iconic challenging initiatives that will respond to their search for new knowledge and innovative technology. Projects such as the SKA allow for robust government industry and university partnerships. For example, Cisco, IBM, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University are already partners with the CSIR in various SKA initiatives.

It certainly was all about science and technology.

It certainly was all about science and technology.

“Fifth, we should have increased investment in the health sciences as this will be a direct investment in improving the quality of life. Leaders on the continent have committed to creating an Africa that is more in control of its fate.

“Sixth, much more must be done to foster African science collaboration as well as global collaboration. Funding must grow as must research partnerships. Universities are key to this goal. We are excited at the early signs of progress, as shown by the formation in March 2015 of the African Research Universities Alliance in Senegal. This network of 15 higher education institutions from eight African countries is a positive start.

“The Partnership for Africa’s Next Generation of Academics is another promising initiative. At the global level the opportunities offered through the EU research initiatives such as the EDCTP, the programmes of the International Astronomical Association, the World Academy of Sciences. The International Council for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology are all useful platforms for collaboration.

“Seventh, our youth must be encouraged to prize knowledge and its potential for attaining the development trajectory of Africa.

“If we commit to these seven we will definitely achieve the lofty goals we have set out in our Agenda 2063 for Africa,” said Minister Pandor.

The forum programme brought together over 1500 participants for discussion and debate in over 36 sessions.

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