Achieving Africa’s sustainable growth requires leveraging the power of science, technology and innovation to fight multidimensional vulnerabilities. This is according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
The sentiments were the highlights of a session on science, technology, and innovation (STI) on the margins of the 9th African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development that was held in a hybrid format in Niamey, the capital of Niger last week.
The experts at the forum, UNECA noted, emphasized the role of STI as a key driver and enabler for ensuring economic growth, improving well-being, mitigating the effects of climate change, and safeguarding the environment.
The forum called for the need to strengthen national and regional STI ecosystems by fostering innovation, promoting entrepreneurship, and investing in research and development.
The experts were in agreement that by harnessing the potential of STI, Africa can accelerate its socioeconomic progress and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
“We need a clear political will from governments to ensure science, technology, and innovation is a reality,” said Mamoudou Djibo, Niger’s Minister of Higher Education and Research.
“By doing so, our education systems will be able to deliver knowledge that is vital to solving Africa’s sustainability challenges.”
Despite advances in STI, the experts pointed out that significant gaps remain in bridging the scientific and technological divide between developed countries and Africa. The highly uneven global distribution of scientific capacity and access to knowledge threatens to derail the goal of leaving no one behind, which is the central and transformative promise of Agenda 2030, the experts noted.
Emma Theophilus, Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technologies of Namibia, on her part, underscored the need that national systems need to be strengthened.
“Strengthening our national systems for STI is a key game changer for rapid structural transformation in Africa. Leveraging digital transformation can achieve a stronger, smarter, and more inclusive recovery,” she said.
According to the UNECA, over the last decade, Africa has embarked on a trajectory to strengthen its science, technology and innovation capacity.