“We are literally in a race against time. In the context of the fourth industrial revolution, with rapid growth in artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology, genetic engineering, and big data analytics, it’s clear that Africa needs to do more not to be left behind.” − Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.
The President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, and the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt are championing a new push for African countries to work together towards building a new Africa driven by innovation and technology.
The two parties, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the third Africa Science, Technology and Innovation Forum (Africa STI Forum) on Saturday in Cairo, called for greater investment in higher education, science, technology and innovation, and the commercialization of research outputs.
The African Development Bank also emphasized its deep commitment 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.
At the opening session of the Forum, attended by the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah El Sisi, African Ministers, researchers and partners, President Adesina emphasized why Africa needs to promote a culture of innovation driven by Africa’s youth population.
“The youth are Africa’s most important sovereign wealth. With Africa projected to have over 840 million youth by 2050, the continent will brim with the youngest population on earth,” he told the over 300 delegates at the Forum.
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.”
Representing President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, pledged Egypt’s willingness to work with the African Development Bank 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.
As part of its programmes in promoting science, technology and innovation, the Bank is co-hosting the third Africa Science, Technology and Innovation Forum with the theme “STI for Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Transformation in Africa,” in Cairo, Egypt, from February 10-12.