Committed to the development of the continent on all fronts, the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the Egyptian Government are championing a new push for Africans to work together towards building a new Africa driven by innovation and technology.
The two parties, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the third Africa Science, Technology and Innovation Forum (Africa STI Forum) in Cairo, Egypt, called for greater investment in higher education, science, technology and innovation, and the commercialisation of research outputs.
AfDB as part of its programmes in promoting science, technology and innovation is co-hosting the third Africa STI Forum with the theme: ‘STI for Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Transformation in Africa’.
Speaking, AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina, emphasized the bank’s deep commitment to the establishment of an Africa Education Fund, together with the Association for Development of Education in Africa, the Islamic Development Bank and the Government of Japan.
Stressing why Africa needs to promote a culture of innovation driven by Africa’s youth population, Adesina said: “The youth are Africa’s most important sovereign wealth. With Africa projected to have over 840 million youth by 2050, the continent will brim with the youngest population on earth,” he told the over 300 delegates at the Forum.”
“We are literally in a race against time. In the context of the fourth industrial revolution, with rapid growth in artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology, genetic engineering, and big data analytics, it’s clear that Africa needs to do more not to be left behind,” he added.
According to him, the continent must promote regional cooperation in science, technology and innovation, establish more regional centres of excellence and innovation hubs, and facilitate researcher mobility and joint research and development activities across regions.
“To move faster and with quality, Africa must include and provide greater opportunities for women, especially women scientists, and accelerate the enrolment of girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Adesina stated.
Speaking about the AfDB’s strategic partnership with Egypt and how elated the bank is working with the government, the AfDB chief pledged the bank’s commitment to work with the country in its efforts to make Egypt Hepatitis-C free.
“That’s what happens when science, technology and innovation meet up with strong political will: things change! Our investments here (in Egypt) total about $3billion. The Bank has always been there for Egypt,” he said.
Representing President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, pledged the government’s willingness to work with the Bank, and other African countries to build a continent driven by knowledge and innovation.
He assured delegates that Egypt would continue to support young African researchers and increase scholarship opportunities for students from other African countries.