Reinventing Africa Through Innovation!

2012-04-11 12:23

It finally came! And it was super fun, exhilarating and exciting!

The much anticipated and eminent First Africa Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Youth Employment, Human Capital Development and Inclusive Growth was held in Nairobi, Kenya (East Africa) from 1 to 3 April 2012. The forum was organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB), African Union (AU), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA).

The vision and purpose of the Forum was to facilitate the sharing of experiences and analysis among African countries of the very best practices in strengthening science, technology and innovation strategies in Africa, cultivating a strong culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, youth employment. And more importantly harnessing the role of innovation in Africa’s sprawling large informal sector, and increasing the participation of women and youth in science, technology and innovation.

The context and operational theme...

The context and operational theme of the Forum throughout the three days was: “Africa on the move”. Yes Africa is on the move. One  distinguishing feature of the African continent is that it is continuously on the move.

This aspect of AFRICA ON THE MOVE was reflected as follows:

Africa’s demographics are among the most dynamic in the world;

Over 60% of Africans are under the age of 25 making the continent the youngest in the world: The equation is simple: more opportunities for youth equals higher economic growth

There are 1 billion people in Africa today, with 2.3 billion projected for 2050

Several countries  across the Continent  have  experienced notable economic growth rates of 5% to 8%, on average, each year.

The number of Africans in universities and science and technology colleges have tripled over the ten year period. Most African universities has adopted the vision of seeking and finding solutions for Africa’s challenges. More students in universities means more solutions and innovative ideas to Africa’s problems.

These universities offer diverse range of programmes that are relevant to the conditions in Africa.  The programmes range from Agriculture, Health Sciences, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, Law, Human and Social Sciences, Management Sciences, Environmental Sciences to Education and community engagement.

With enhanced social media such as Facebook,  Twitter  and YouTube,  African youth  are  driving changes, (toppling dictators and archaic leaders)  for greater democratic and inclusive governance of the Continent.

The Challenges for you and the rest of Africa are these:

Challenges that are having a bearing on science, technology and innovation in Africa were explored and discussed during the forum as follows:

There is a need to develop skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Between 1999 and 2009, the number of university graduates in Sub-Saharan Africa more than tripled.  Yet, the quality of higher education, especially in Mathematics and Science, remains inadequate.

Africa must seek to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. A vision for private sector development in Africa would link  entrepreneurship to sustainable  and inclusive growth.

The conclusion was this....

Of all the earth vast resources none is more valuable than the human mind. This is the reason why when Africa was celebrated as the natural wonder with its great wild life, lakes, dunes, spectacular mountains and rivers that did not bring success or prosperity to Africa. But now that the African mind is valued and the fact that more and more Africans are increasingly innovative and industrious we begin to see real development in the continent.

Science, technology and innovation is a key component of sustainable growth and development. The capacity of African countries to compete in the global market depends more and more on citizens of Africa’s ability to innovate and apply the relevant technology in their daily businesses.

Investments in science, technology and innovation and the integration of science, technology and innovation into education, economic and industrial policies can increase global market competitiveness, create employment and increase productivity.

Science technology and innovation are  not a luxury reserved for developed countries or boldly aspiring middle-income countries in Asia.  Rather, it is a necessity for lower income countries that want to develop and implement sustainable solutions to such pressing development challenges as food security, clean energy, clean water, and health care.

Science technology and innovation capacity building, food security, clean energy, clean water, effective, efficient health care delivery, innovation, entrepreneurship, youth employment, and human capital development are all inter-linked.  The challenge is to develop each of these facets into a coherent continental, regional, and national science, technology and innovation system.

The Recommendation for you is this....

Africa is full of potentials and opportunities are rich and abound. If you are a citizen of any African country there is no need to emigrate outside Africa but consider emigrating to yet another African country.

Consider the fact that as you emigrate to other countries outside Africa that are called developed and civilized the people in those countries come to Africa thus taking the advantages you failed to take - and you are left living in foreign lands where you are treated as a second class human being. Isn't that foolish?

For sure life in Africa might be little hard but opportunities abound, and your dignity remains intact as you are a citizen by birth of this Continent.

The potential for free living beyond racial boundaries in Africa is great - it is in Africa where the spirit of humanness irrespective of racial backgrounds is flourishing. America has its own prejudices and racism, so is Europe. Africa is open and free for every human being of whatever colour.

Through education, science, technology and research as well as community development the potentials and opportunities of Africa are being increasingly unlocked

Africa has entered a period of extraordinary change. Ordinary people are taking control of their destiny. They are beginning to do very well. They have the talent, they have the entrepreneurial spirit and you can become part of this great life in Africa through partnerships providing technical assistance and logistical support connecting and interacting with diverse people all over the continent.

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