Read time: 3 minutes

Africa urged to invest in science, tech to build a prosperous future

By , Africa editor
Ethiopia , 22 Apr 2024
Antonio Pedro, deputy executive secretary for programme support at the ECA.
Antonio Pedro, deputy executive secretary for programme support at the ECA.

Africa can build a more prosperous, just, and sustainable future by investing in science, technology, and innovation.

African officials, delegates, and experts reiterated this at the African Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) summit, which opened yesterday, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The STI Forum, a two-day event takes place before the African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, is organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in partnership with the African Union Commission and others.

The organisers emphasised that science, innovation, and technology are crucial to the continent's development of agriculture, industry, and poverty reduction.

Belete Moll, Ethiopia's minister of technology and innovation, stated that fostering innovation in vital industries, such as agriculture, clean energy, and healthcare, can create jobs, improve livelihoods, and raise millions out of poverty in Africa.

He said Ethiopia's focus on developing its agricultural sector and guaranteeing food security sets a good example for other African countries to follow.

Moll said: “Ethiopia has developed a food system transformation roadmap and launched several initiatives focused on boosting agricultural productivity, achieving self-sufficiency, and combating climate change. These initiatives include improving access to fertilizers, seeds, and technologies for farmers.”

Antonio Pedro, deputy executive secretary for programme support at the ECA, stated that Africa must invest in human capital development, research and development, as well as learning how to produce, sell, and use emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and genomics, which are transforming lives.

The STI Forum, he explained, is specifically designed to stimulate collaboration, the spread of technology and innovation, and the scaling up of policy and operational activities to expedite science, technology, and innovation.

Lidia Arthur Brito, assistant director-general for Natural Sciences, UNESCO, said international collaboration in science is an ideal way to foster peace and sustainable development.

“By investing in science and promoting innovation, African societies can empower youth to become the drivers not only of economic growth and job creation, but also drivers of solutions to pressing environmental challenges,” said Brito.

She added that when research is linked to society, to local communities, it deploys its full potential for socio-economic development.

However, Brito underscored a critical challenge, namely financial sustainability, which she said impacts on many African tech hubs. “They are reliant on grants from development partners and international donors to survive, in the near absence of local business angels and seed capital.”

Javier Pérez, ambassador for the delegation of the European Union to the African Union and ECA, said “The European Union is investing €279 million in Africa for research and innovation to support both the SDGs and Agenda 2063 for Africa.”

He added that if young people and women are empowered to become the next technology entrepreneurs and innovators, they are likely to trigger transformational change.

Daily newsletter