The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Vera Songwe, has called for the establishment of an African Technology Development and Transfer Network to spur innovation and accelerate development on the continent. She made the call during the opening of the 4th Africa Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, on 1 March 2022.
An African Technology Development and Transfer Network could “identify emerging technologies, anticipate needs and encourage the sharing of knowledge” across the continent, said Ms Songwe, noting that such a network would lie at the heart of diffusing technologies to the continent’s SMEs.
“We need to build sound scientific, technological and innovation foundations to enable STI to deliver. As we have witnessed recently, many of our countries needed support to build capacities to test for COVID-19. As global supply chains collapsed, Africa’s over-reliance on imported medical supplies left the continent vulnerable in many aspects, and Africa was forced to innovate,” she added.
The Africa STI Forum is a collaborative multi-stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), established pursuant to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as part of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism. The mechanism was established under the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and was launched by the 2030 Agenda to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The forum is organized by the United Nations inter-agency task team on science, technology and innovation for the SDGs.
Rwanda’s Minister of Education, Valentine Uwamariya, explained that “this congregation of some of Africa’s best and experienced minds will find ways in which Africa can deploy science and technology to meet these goals in less than a decade.”
UNESCO Regional Director for Eastern Africa, Hubert Gijzen, who was also in attendance emphasized the importance of collaboration: “We need cooperation between countries for Open Science. This is why UNESCO launched the First International Open Science framework which 193 members states have approved.”
The STI Forum takes place on the sidelines of the eighth Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD8) – an annual multi-stakeholder platform organized by the ECA and the government Rwanda in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and other entities of the United Nations Systems.
ARFSD8 will be held from March 3 to March 5, 2022, on the theme ‘Building forward better: A green, inclusive and resilient Africa poised to achieve the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.’