The Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) was launched in Nairobi on Friday by the President of Mauritius, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, who is also a member of the African Academy of Sciences.
The association will help drive Africa’s research agenda and build scientific capacity across the continent that only produces about 2 percent of the world’s research output.
Speaking during the occasion, Gurib-Fakim said now is the moment for African governments to take action and prioritize funding for local scientific research and innovation, which she said the continent’s future depends on.
“As a scientist, entrepreneur and a president, I have seen first-hand the impact that investments in science can have both on individual researchers and on a country’s development,” she said.
The Mauritian leader said to make Africa do well at research level, the continent needs more research bodies like AESA.
“Ebola was able to reach the level it attained in West Africa because there are no strong research institutions in the continent that would have curbed its spread,” she said.
According to African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency, Africa accounts for 15 percent of the global population and 25 percent of the global disease burden, but only produces about 2 percent of the world’s research output.
Although, more than 60 percent of African countries have increased their recent investments in science, over half of African countries still invest less than 0.5 percent of their GDP on research — far less than the global target of 1 percent.
Professor Berhanu Abegaz, Executive Director of African Academy of Sciences (AAS), said building capacity for science, technology and innovation is a strategic and critical investment for Africa’s future.
“Today, we are proud to launch new initiatives that will help harness Africa’s scientific potential to contribute to the wellbeing of Africa’s people,” Berhanu said.
AESA was created by the AAS and the NEPAD Agency with 5.5 million U.S. dollars in initial seed funding.
Endorsed by African Heads of State and Government, the Nairobi-based AESA aims to support the implementation of the African Union’s Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy (STISA-2024) and the African Health Strategy (AHS) for 2015-2030.
In addition to serving as a scientific think tank, AESA will manage more than 70 million dollars in Africa-focused research programs as part of its broader effort to build pan-African scientific capacity and leadership. Enditem