ECA underscores science, technology and innovation policies in progress report to Member States
Addis Ababa, 03 May 2011 (ECA) – The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has presented a detailed report on its activities in the area of Science & Technology (S&T) during the ongoing Second Session of the Committee on Development, Information, Science and Technology in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The document examines the steps taken by the Commission in the field of S&T as a response to the resolutions of CODIST I (2009) as well as its implementations and the way forward.
“One of the things we want to do is to continue to assist in STI (science, technology and innovation) policy formulation and implementation at national and subregional levels”, said Dr. Victor Konde, Scientific Affair Officer of ECA’s ICT, Science and Technology Division (ISTD), who presented the report. “Policy making itself should become innovative and scientific”, he added. Konde also underlined that “there is a complete lack of data, so we will put a focus on the creation of databases”.
The meeting and the candid discussions that followed the presentation gave a lot of input and ideas regarding the way forward in the S&T sector and the preparation of CODIST III, according to ECA’s Information and Communication Service. A participant said that "the missing link is between the scientific and the financial institutions" and proposed to invite more financial institutions and CSOs to the next edition of the Committee.
One response to CODIST I resolutions has been the development of an African Innovation Framework (AIF). Under the title “Unlocking Africa’s Future” it seeks to help transform the continent into the world’s largest and powerful industrial base through its rich natural resources and its human capital.
Other themes featured in the report are progress made in STI Policy Formulation, Knowledge Sharing and Networking (such as Access to Scientific Knowledge in Africa – ASKIA, and STI on on-line platform, newsletter and social media) and Business Development Support Services. These include the African Science, Technology and Innovation Endowment Fund (ASTIEF) which was launched by the ECA in response to a call made during the Science with African conference for the establishment of a fund to promote the STI area.
“The Fund is designed to stimulate research commercialization in public-private partnerships by tapping the growing pool of hardworking and successful entrepreneurs in Africa that understand and are willing to promote innovation”, the report states.
A model that builds on research and productive (R&D) capacity on the continent is the African network for drugs and diagnostics innovation (ANDI), which was conceived by WHO and aims to drive biomedical innovations to meet Africa’s public health needs. The report explains: “It seeks to increase research and development collaboration among African institutions and countries and foster public-private partnerships.”
“I am overwhelmed by the things that are happening in Africa”, said a Member of Parliament from Namibia. “Many countries on the continent are currently preparing the ground to take off.”
The session of the S&T subcommittee was attended by over 70 experts in the field. Detailed country reports included presentations from Morocco, Rwanda, Ghana, Cameroon, Senegal and Zimbabwe.