As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hit the world with infections exceeding eight million, Africa, like all other continents are seeking ways to bring the virus under control, as well as looking forward to recovery from the devastating effects of the novel coronavirus, including economic.
For Africa’s recovery, however, some recommendations have been made. Science, technology and innovation must be at the center of the restoration efforts.
In a press release copied to ghanabusinessnews.com, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Vera Songwe says Africa’s recovery from the pandemic and the continent’s ability to create sustainable jobs must be driven by science, technology and innovation.
Speaking at the beginning of a five-day virtual COVID-19 Africa Innovation and Investment Forum 2020, Ms. Songwe said the continent needs innovations to drive homegrown solutions out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic recession it has triggered around the world.
Expressing concern about the high costs of IP registrations on the continent, she said they were prohibitive and not rewarding innovation.
“This is not a strategy for growth. As we talk of science, technology and innovation, we also need to make sure that our policymakers ensure that our technological platforms are robust,” she said, adding that: “This virus has highlighted the importance of science, technology and innovation and the need for Africa to build a much stronger, much more collaborative scientific technology industrial base.”
Ms. Songwe called for partnerships across the continent to ensure among others the building of the African Continental Free Trade Area, and to develop and innovate collaboratively.
“If Africa is to succeed in getting out of this crisis in a sustainable way, technology is going to have to be the cornerstone of that success,” she said.
In his contribution, Ethiopia’s Education Minister, Mr. Getahun Mekuria said: “Africa has a lot of assets. Be it its vast natural resources or its youth but we will continue to lag exponentially behind if we do not fuel our own innovations.”
Commenting, the African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Ms. Sarah Anyang Agbor, said lack of capacity was a major issue the continent needs to address.
“We need to boost strategic investments in STI if we are to deliver Africa’s aspirations as enunciated in Agenda 2063,” she said, and noted that the private sector has a key role to play in helping the continent translate research into innovation.
Mr. Hubert Gijzen, Regional Director and Representative for the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa, said; “We are so focused on combating the coronavirus at the moment but we should not forget that sustainable development goals. The SDGs should remain our compass even as we fight the pandemic.”
Mr. Daan du Toit, the Deputy-Director General, International Cooperation and Resources in the Department of Science and Innovation in South Africa, said Africa should do all it can to use STI to bolster growth in the aftermath of COVID-19, because it was very much about involving young people.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi