Prof. Sarah Agbor, Commissioner, Human Resources, Science and Technology, African Union (AU) Commission, has urged member states to implement the Science, Technology, Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024) for the socio-economic development of the continent.
Agbor made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the first meeting of the African Scientific Research and Innovation Council (ASRIC) in Abuja.
“We have so many innovations even from our indigenous countries but we have not been able to carry them out. Why? Because we have not been able to put the right structures in place.
“So ASRIC is, first for infrastructure development, to capacitate African scientists, and to make sure that we meet the challenges of our continent in the field of science, technology and innovation.
“We need to consolidate science, technology and innovation. If not, our youth will keep on dying in the Mediterranean (sea). If not people will keep dying of diseases we can easily cure.
“This is very essential. It is for this reason that we call on national governments that they need to commit themselves and ensure that we realise this.
“We have the strategies put in place. For science technology and innovation, we have a continental strategy – they call it STISA 2024 (Science, Technology, Innovation Strategy for Africa) – ten years’ plan.
“This is the decision of the member states. Now it has been made into a template. It is for them to go back to their various countries and make sure that they implement.
“We want implementation. If not, we’ll be holding conferences and coming out with nothing.’’
NAN reports that STISA-2024 was developed when the African Union decided to formulate a broader and long-term AU Agenda 2063.
STISA-2024, the first of the ten-year incremental phasing strategies to respond to the demand for science, technology and innovation, is expected to impact across critical sectors such as agriculture, energy, environment, health, infrastructure development, mining, security and water among others.
The strategy is anchored on six distinct priority areas that are projected would contribute to the achievement of the AU Vision, which include Eradication of Hunger and Achieving Food Security; Prevention and Control of Diseases; Communication (Physical and Intellectual Mobility); Protection of our Space; Live Together- Build the Society; and Wealth Creation.
Agbor called on African scientists to work closely toward achieving the AU’s broader and long-term agenda of ensuring the socio-economic development of the continent.
“We have just 45 years to get to 2063 and we’re thinking of the transformation of the Africa that we want.
“How do we transform Africa if we don’t speak education, if we don’t speak science, if we don’t speak technology, if we don’t speak innovation?
“Because the bulk of our challenges need to be met by science, technology, innovation.
“The place of Science, Technology, Innovation and Research and Development for the transformation of the Africa we want and for the empowerment of the African youth and to give them the kind of jobs that they need, is on STI.
“And our scientists need to put their feet on the ground and prove their strength on the scientific field.
’’The bulk of our brain drain is abroad, but these people can still come back home and assist us in shaping the future of Africa.
“Out of that, there are scientists within the African continent. Why is it that each time we need to take samples, we go and analyse our samples in a laboratory abroad.
“Don’t we have what it takes to put in place a good laboratory here in Africa? Don’t we have the scientists that can analyse the samples? We do have them.
“But we need to put our acts together and make sure that we bring the scientists together because if they can come together in a research council like this, then they will be able to work together, know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and then use the strengths to continue and then work on their weaknesses for us to have the kind of Africa that we should be proud of.
“We should no longer be speaking about the American dream, the British dream, the Canadian dream and when you’re sick, you’d need to be taken out of the country for treatment.’’
According to the commissioner, Africa has many innovations from the various indigenous countries in the continent, but which have not been developed because the right structures have not been put in place.
Speaking on how African scientists in the diaspora can return and contribute to the development of science, technology and innovation, Agbor said government should be able to create the atmosphere that would be conducive for them to operate in.
“It is very important to note that in one of their meetings, one of the decisions that the African heads of state took was to recognise Africans in the diaspora as the sixth region.
“We have five regions in Africa. But we are saying that our Africans in the diaspora – wherever they may be – they are Africans, and should be able to come back and help us here.
“But again, for them to be able to come back, the government should be able to create a conducive environment for them.
“It is a responsibility. It is not something that we should negotiate because we need them, because we call them the brain drain,’’ she said. (NAN)
– Jan. 3, 2019 @ 14:05 GMT |