ECOWAS launched the first edition of the African Forum for Research and Innovation (FARI 2022) during press conference in Abuja, Nigeria. The theme of the forum is “Science, Technology and Innovation for a more Competitive ECOWAS” which was adopted to reflect the numerous challenges in the World economy as member states of the ECOWAS look inwards for a better and brighter sub-region. African Forum for Research and Innovation (FARI) will take place from 17th – 21st October 2022 in Abuja.
In his welcome address, the ECOWAS President, Dr. Alieu Omar Touray whose speech was delivered by the Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs, Prof. Fatou Sow Sarr, welcomed all to the launch and thanked the Presidents of Nigeria and Guinea Bissau for their commitment to regional integration. He explained that “Innovation is at the heart of knowledge economies. It is the foundation of competitiveness and one of the main drivers of economic growth, social well-being, and adaptation to the environment. It is a factor in the modernization of agricultural production systems, the predictability of the seasons, the recognition of harmful and destructive pests, and ultimately a potential source of job creation, especially for young people by increasing the attractiveness of the agro-silvo-pastoral sector and fisheries. The crucial role, both in transforming national economies and in responding to global and regional challenges is increasingly visible and makes technologies and innovations key items on the agenda of several organizations such as the United Nations, the African Union with vision 2063 and ECOWAS with its new vision 2050.”
He stated that “FARI is the ECOWAS forum dedicated to the promotion of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) created by decision (A/DEC/.1/6/21) by the sixtieth Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government. The FARI is the result of the implementation of the ECOWAS Policy on Science, Technology and Innovation (ECOPOST) Action Plan adopted in 2012. It is part of the ECOWAS 2050 vision through Pillar 4 on inclusive and sustainable transformation and development, a transformation that can only be achieved through science and technology as well as structuring investments in promising sectors. The role of Science and Technology is proving to be an important cornerstone in the development of innovation and the region’s resilience in the face of climate change and exogenous shocks.”
He explained that the theme of the first edition of FARI or FARI-2022 is “Science, Technology and Innovation for a competitive ECOWAS” and that the theme was chosen to develop a common vision that can promote the relevance of a common agenda in the field of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) and improve the effective application of research results and innovation for the benefit of sustainable socio-economic development and the competitiveness of our region. He noted that all exchanges at FARI 2022 will be grouped into three sub-themes namely “STI achievements and progress in Africa and their pooling”, “Regional cooperation and coherent cooperation frameworks between governments, scientists, universities, decision-makers, the private sector and TFPs and civil society; and “New visions of STI for a more inclusive development of African countries”.
The Honourable Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora, in his speech, thanked the leadership of ECOWAS for their commitment to ensuring regional integration in the areas of science and innovation. He said that this forum should have be held in 2021 but was not possible due to technical issues and the advent of COVID. He added that Nigeria has created an enabling environment for startups and entrepreneurs to succeed through grant support and mentorship programme. He listed the achievements of Nigeria in the science and technology space as the development of National Policy on Science, Technology and Innovation, the establishment of Roadmap 2017-2030 and implementation plans for the development of the science sector as well as the commercialization efforts of R&D results from national research institutions.
In her speech, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs, Professor Fatou Sow Sarr, whose speech was read by the Head of ECOWAS Education and Science Division, Dr. Roland Kouakou, said “The issue that brings us together this morning is of paramount importance for our developing countries. Indeed, the standard of living of a nation depends to a large extent on its scientific and technological development, which implies above all the development of research and innovation. This requires a political and financial commitment from all African nations and at all levels. The convening of the African Research and Innovation Forum marks an important turning point in the promotion of science and technology at the regional level. It is a framework for strengthening regional cooperation in the science and technology sector. FARI will contribute to bringing together researchers from the region on the one hand and their counterparts from the rest of the world on the other.” She thanked the leadership of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other Member States for their support for FARI 2022 and stated that the outcome of the resolutions that will emerge from the regional forum will provide a qualitative leap towards the realization of the ECOWAS STI vision 2050.