African ministers to boost investment for science, technology and innovation

Posted on | april 6, 2012 | No Comments

Prof Margret Kamar

The first forum of African Ministers in charge of science, technology and innovation in Nairobi ended with a call by the ministers to increase investment in the sector.

The ministers said, increased investment will strengthen scientific research in Africa at national and regional levels.

Read by Kenya’s Prof Margret Kamar who is in charge of her country’s science and technology docket, the African ministers said time was ripe for the continent to harness science, technology and innovation to solve societal problems such as water, health, energy and agriculture.

They promised to put in place adequate mechanisms that would facilitate knowledge and technology transfer between countries through strengthening regional networks, south to south and north cooperation.

But there were also hard hitting sessions on the failures of Africa in science, technology and innovation.

Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s minister for science and technology said it is a pity that so many years after most of Africa gained independence, many African states have no policy guiding the sector.

“There is experience that use of STI would help Africa gain global respect,” said.

STI, she said, could act as catalyst in creating opportunities for the African youth.

She said as ministers, they must insist and demand governments increased funding for this important sector.

Jean Ping, President of the African Union Commission said through his representative, Erastus Mwencha said science, technology and innovation has the capacity to help AU’s vision of having at least 20 of her 54 members states attain middle income status by 2030 besides boosting the continent’s presence in published journals.

He revealed that at the moment that Africa’s access to university education is just 7 per cent, thanks due insufficient resources and low use of ICT.

Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank urged Africa to make use of science, technology and innovation to explore natural resources to create wealth thereby lessen inequalities in the society.

He said Africa’s reliance on the inherited wealth in oil and natural gas among others has led to conflicts but said science and technology offers Africa the opportunity to create wealth devoid of chaos.

The challenge for Africa however, said Kaberuka, is how to bring her youthful population, estimated to be 200 million aged between 15-24 into economic playground.

According to Kaberuka, although there is massive inflow of the foreign domestic investment into Africa, there is however massive unskilled labour, poor infrastructure.

He said 200 million people in Africa are aged 15-24 years. By 2030, he said, Africa will have world’s leading labour force.

“Africa is in the unique position to reap the demographic dividend….similar to the South East Asia. In the 70s, ASEAN captured this…and demographic dividends contributed up to 45% to the GDPs of the countries in south East Asia.

But investors coming to Africa today are hampered by unskilled manpower and poor infrastructure.

The public sector will never have enough resources to meet the need for STI development.

Quality of education is compromised by the need to meet the need for space for higher education.

But there are continental initiatives to help bridge the gap like the Pan African University.

AUTHOR: Henry Neondo
URL: http://
E-MAIL: neondohenry [at]


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