Technology could accelerate growth, African leaders say

African countries must make concerted efforts towards developing new science and technology innovation policies if the continent’s socio-economic development has to accelerate, according to Africa’s Ministers in charge of Science, Technology; Finance and Economic Planning and Education.

Speaking at the continent’s forum on Science Technology and Innovation, STI, early this month, Prof Margaret Kamar, Kenya’s Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, said Kenya has since taken a giant leap by developing a new STI strategy set to implement the policy into a national development agenda, to be emulated by the rest of the African countries.

Kamar said as part of the policy strategy, college education could also boost implementation of sound STI strategies aimed at fronting for sustainable development by solving problems such as water, sanitation, ICT, energy and agriculture.

She hoped that the strategy would reposition the continent towards surviving the fast-paced globalized knowledge-based world.

The Minister pledged to establish linkage between science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and labour markets in Africa, by implementing specific actions at all levels. This according to Kamar, will ensure knowledge generation and enterprise development.

Mrs Aida Opoku-Mensah, Director ICT, Science and Technology Division at UNECA said STI could move the continent’s aspirations to the next level.

She added that Africa should invest its own resources if it has to achieve the needed growth and urged the African countries to refrain from depending on the agenda-setting of development partners.

Opoku-Mensah said the attitude of Africa’s politicians, academia, and civil society should change and focus on mainstreaming STI to accelerate growth.

Gretchen Kalonji, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, said his organization championed strategies that could promote comprehensive growth and sustainable development in Africa.

“Priority in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is driving the 2015 consolidated plan of action, which seeks to bring radical changes into the STI landscape in Africa”, Jean-Pierre Ezin, AUC Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, said.

The three-day forum was aimed at fast tracking development in Africa in addition to implementing sustainable solutions to the continent’s development challenges. It also focused on mainstreaming innovation, entrepreneurship, and SME development into the STI concept.

The forum was hosted by the Kenyan government and organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and the UNESCO, in association with the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA).

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