African Development Bank and Egypt say the continent needs to practically entrench homegrown science, technology and innovation to avoid being left behind in the rapidly unfolding Fourth Industrial Revolution characterized by rapid growth in artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology, genetic engineering, and big data analytics.
AfDB and the Government of Arab Republic of Egypt are championing a new push for African nations to work together towards building a new Africa driven by innovation and technology, emphasized the need to invest more in higher education, science, technology, innovation and commercialization of research outputs. Their statements were made during the recent Third Africa Science, Technology and Innovation Forum (Africa STI Forum) held in Cairo, Egypt. It was attended by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, African ministers, researchers and partners. It was held from February 10-12, 2018.
AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina told the 300 delegates that Africa needs to promote a culture of innovation driven by Africa’s youth projected to reach 840 million in 2050. The African Development Bank is also committed to the establishment of the Africa Education Fund, together with the Association for Development of Education in Africa, the Islamic Development Bank and the Government of Japan.
The Forum was also told why the continent must promote regional cooperation in science, technology and innovation, establish more regional centres of excellence and innovation hubs, and facilitate researcher mobility and joint research and development activities across regions.
To move faster and with quality, Africa must include and provide greater opportunities for women, especially women scientists, and accelerate the enrolment of girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Adesina said.
He spoke about the Bank’s strategic partnership with Egypt, stressing how proud the African Development Bank and pledged to work with the country in its efforts to make Egypt Hepatitis-C free. “That’s what happens when science, technology and innovation meet up with strong political will: things change!”
On the Bank’s work in Egypt, he explained: “Our investments here total about $3 billion. The Bank has always been there for Egypt.” Egypt’ minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, pledged Egypt’s willingness to work with the AfDB and African countries to build a continent driven by knowledge and innovation. He told delegates that Egypt would continue to support young African researchers and increase scholarship opportunities for students from other African countries.