By Violet Mengo
Africa must create different, more inclusive forms of wealth that benefit the continent and are more sustainable using Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I).
Donald Kaberuka, the head of African Development Bank (AfDB) said science and innovation could create sustainable and equitable wealth for all in Africa and the world as a whole.
“Created affluence is likely to quicken development and lessen inequality, as opposed to inherited capital, which fuels inequalities and brings conflict in Africa,” Kaberuka said.
AfDB has identified and is funding Science, Technology and Innovation initiatives aimed at stimulating economic development on the continent, alongside its investments in other sectors such as water, energy and infrastructure development.
The Forum heard that by 2030, Africa stands to reap ‘demographic dividends’ as it is estimated that a quarter of the world’s youth population will be Africans – but the opportunity to take advantage of this workforce would be lost if they don’t receive the education and skills training necessary to innovate and become entrepreneurs.
Dr Kaberuka advised that to expand universities output in Africa, emphasis should be placed on e-learning education approaches, to help bridge the gaps resulting from a continent-wide shortage of qualified lecturers and the high number of university students.
“It would make a lot of sense to use e-learning in universities instead of having one lecturer teaching 1,000 students, resulting in poorly qualified graduates,” Dr Kaberuka said.
Dr Kaberuka said some Asian counties have effectively utilised their large youth populations, with deliberate strategies to provide skills training and jobs, and said African countries need to perform the same task.
The first African science, technology and innovation forum ended on 3rd with resolutions by African ministers in attendance to push governments to dedicated at least one percent of national Gross Development Product (GDP) dedicated to STI.