UN official proposes technology development and transfer network for Africa

To stimulate development and innovation across Africa, an “African Development and Technology Transfer Network” should be created. This was the proposal of the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Vera Songwe, in his keynote address on Tuesday at the fourth Africa Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Forum, being held in Kigali, Rwanda. ECA is an agency of the United Nations (UN).

“We need to build a solid science, technology and innovation foundation to enable STI to deliver,” she said. “As we have seen recently, many of our countries needed help to build their capacity to test for Covid-19. As global supply chains collapsed, Africa’s overreliance on imported medical supplies left the continent vulnerable in many ways, and Africa was forced to innovate.

The creation of such a pan-African STI network could, she said, “identify emerging technologies, anticipate needs and encourage knowledge sharing” across Africa. It could play a central role in disseminating technology to African small and medium enterprises.

The Africa STI Forum was created to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and within the framework of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. A multi-stakeholder collaborative initiative, it is organized by a United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“[T]its congregation of some of the best and most experienced minds in Africa will find ways in which Africa can deploy science and technology to achieve these goals in less than a decade,” the Rwandan Minister of education. Valentin Uwamariya. The Forum took place alongside the Eighth African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development.

“We need cooperation between countries for open science”, underlined the director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) for East Africa Hubert Gijzen. “This is why Unesco has launched the first international framework for open science, which 193 Member States have endorsed.”

Ruby A. Robillard