Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) says African countries spend less than one per cent of their national budgets on research and development.
He said in the area of research, science, technology, and innovation, Africa currently had only 124 researchers per million inhabitants, with Egypt and South Africa leading with 658 and 518 researchers respectively.
Whereas in the European Union and United States, the ratio was more than 4,000 researchers per million inhabitants.
Dr Mayaki made the disclosure at the launch of the AUDA-NEPAD Centre of Excellence in Science, Technology and Innovation (CoE-STI).
The AUDA-NEPAD CoE-STI is one of the five CoE, set-up in South Africa, in partnership with South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Stellenbosch University (SU).
The launch was held on the theme: “Partnering to link innovation and practice for accelerated Agenda 2063 implementation”.
It was organized to expose both the tripartite partnership and the AUDA-NEPAD CoE in STI as a unique instrument to rally and bring technological and management innovations into development policy and investment choices, while at the same time exposing Africa’s own research and development capabilities.
The launch also provided an open platform to share experiences especially in terms of accelerating the adoption of a critical mass of these innovations.
Dr Mayaki said science, technology, and innovation would fuel development, accelerate growth and tackle issues such as poverty, disease outbreak, food insecurity, water and sanitation, climate change.
He said it would also improve public service delivery and ultimately improved human and environmental wellbeing.
Dr Mayaki said in 2013, African leaders endorsed the continent’s economic growth and development blueprint, Agenda 2063, which underscored the importance of leveraging science, technology and innovation.
He said the African Union also adopted the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024) to place science, technology and innovation at the heart of Africa’s socio-economic development and growth.
The CEO said despite these efforts, progress towards implementing STISA-2024 and achieving the goals and targets of Agenda 2063 had been slow, according to the 2019 African Innovation Outlook published by AUDA-NEPAD.
He advised African Governments to develop homegrown solutions to their problems instead of mostly depending on the outside world for assistance.
Dr Thulani Dlamini, CEO of CSIR, said for Africa to develop, investments should be made in the kind of science and technology that addressed problems faced by the continent.
Also, the science and technology implemented in Africa should contribute to alleviating unemployment, poverty and inequality.
He said the CoE would provide a unique platform to source funding and other resources for the upscale, examination and localization of proven innovations to member states and governments in support of their developmental priorities for the implementation of agenda 2063.
Ms Mmampei Chaba, Chief Director, Multilateral Cooperation and Africa Department of Science and Technology, said Africa was home to a large proportion of global challenges.
She said Africa was also one of the regions in the world that desperately needed interventions and innovative solutions to address its challenges.
Ms Chaba outlined three strategies to resolve the innovation paradox in Africa: the first was on innovation investments that can realize high potential returns.
Secondly, she said Africans should develop the capability to understand innovation, commercialize and take its innovations to market.
Last of all, Governments should develop capabilities for implementing active innovation policies.