African Ministers and heads of delegations attending the third Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in Africa in Cairo, Egypt, on February 10-12, have committed to support the continent’s youth to build tomorrow’s society through innovation.
Science, Technology and Innovation is also expected to be high on national, regional and continental development agendas, according to the “Cairo Declaration” made at the end of the Forum.
At the opening session of the Forum, attended by the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, African Ministers, researchers and partners on Saturday, January 10, the African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina said “Africa needs to promote a culture of innovation driven by Africa’s youth.”
The Forum pledged to support the development of an African Education Fund to attract sustainable financing in collaboration with the African Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and other financial institutions.
The leaders pledged to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in innovative fields, such as electronics, computer science, automation and telecommunications, by encouraging the private sector to develop platforms and incubators for start-ups.
The Declaration also committed to design and adopt policies that promote gender equality in education and higher education in Science, Technology, Engendering and Mathematics (STEM) in particular, and in student participation, teacher training, professional development, academic and administrative staffing, and research and development.
“The African Development Bank is prepared to work with African governments and partners to advance STI on the continent by playing a strategic role in raising awareness and strategically working with African countries on smart investments in STI for Africa’s growth and competitiveness,” said Oley Dibba-Wadda, Director of Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development at the African Development Bank.
“The Bank will continue to work together with partners to help position STI at the centre of policy dialogue.”
Sarah Anyang Agbor, African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, said the Cairo Declaration would help reframe and re-orient the regional body’s programmes and policies.
“Our greatest potential is our people! Africa is in a position to harvest the fruits of a demographic dividend, especially the young population, whose energy, creativity and courage must drive Africa’s development. Investing in their education, technical competences and training therefore remains critical to us,” Agbor said.
She regretted that, despite the commitment by Africa’s leaders to increase research and development expenditures to at least 1% of GDP, many were still not yet committed.
Yongsoo Hwang, Senior Research Fellow Emeritus at the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI) in the Republic of Korea, said the Korean Government was willing to support Africa’s transformation initiatives for industrialization and to improve people’s lives, based on Korea’s experiences in socio-economic transformation.
As part of its programmes in promoting science, technology and innovation, the African Development Bank co-hosted the third Africa Science, Technology and Innovation Forum with the theme “STI for Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Transformation in Africa,” in Cairo. The event was also supported by Korea, Japan and other partners.