Africa needs tech, innovation to improve output

The Second Africa-wide Conference on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) recently held in Kigali, Rwanda, concluded with an urgent call for African governments, regional economic communities and continental organs including, the African Union, African Development Bank, and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa to sustain the recognition of the role and importance of STIs in socio-economic advancements.

The meeting also integrates calls for African states to ensure the integration of STIs in their respective development frameworks while refining the centrality of science and technology in socio-economic development including, the transformation of rural livelihoods on the continent.

Experts from the lead organisers especially; AATF, Government of Rwanda through its Ministry of Agriculture and the African Union Development Agency – New Partnership for Africa’s Development.

The role of STI in the transformation of agricultural sector has been refuted by the African government as the imperative engine of the continent’s survival and growth, the process has been slow amid ongoing and emerging challenges.

Post Covid-19 and out of these calls, evidence of new challenges have emerged and with them, opportunities to mitigate identifying; efficiency, resilience, digitization, agility and sustainability.

Yet with limited implementations, a number of caps have appeared like; Science and Technology being narrowly defined; insufficient emphasis on innovation; low level of readiness for innovation and poor infrastructure, among others.

Yet, Africa’s agricultural and structural transformation lies in the advancement of STI. To this end, there must be immediate and continuous improvement in information and communication technology, harnessing of biotech and nanotech in order to increase food production, fight diseases like malaria, TB and HIV which impacts on agricultural products.

Granted, most countries lack the requisite scientific and technological capabilities to engage in these applications but then, here are the challenges that must be addressed.

The post-Kigali resolution must be written by agencies to build integrated systems that work as evidence suggests. Africa has already put more emphasis on research and development yet, with minimal success because it has minimal emphasis on domestic technology and innovation. Africa must build on benchmarking and implementation strategies that work.

Kigali voices must be heard with attendant budgetary increase in agriculture – relative say, to security in some countries – and, investments in science, engineering, entrepreneurial skills, scientific skills and infrastructure supported by innovative cross cutting and tangible dialogue.

To enhance capacity at national level, universities, private enterprises, financial institutions, technology support agencies, policy making and research bodies ; seed technology, irrigation, fertilizers and hence, higher yields.

Threats from climate change, population growth and the emergence of various pests and diseases against the background of Africa’s food bill estimated to hit $ 110 billion by 2025 is not sustainable; these steps are imperative engines to spur continental GDP, industrialization and the achievement of Africa 2063 agenda and her own contribution to SDGs.

The writer is a pan-Africanist and former columnist with New African Magazine [email protected]

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