Ministerial Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa underway

The Second Ministerial Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in Africa is underway at the Hassan II Academy of Science and Technology in Rabat, Morocco, to discuss boosting science and technology in Africa.

The opening session focused on the need for bilateral and multilateral agreements in science and technology.

During the course of the three-day Forum, the participants will draw up an initial list of 10 innovative projects and launch a publication on the future of technological innovation in Africa. An action plan will also be produced, with a view to boosting science and technology across Africa.

At the end of the three days, the ministers in attendance are expected to propose a motion calling for a new science and technology support fund. This new fund will be managed by the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The Moroccan Minister for Science and Technology, Moulay Hafid Elalamy, stressed the importance of science and technology research in delivering effective transformation in Africa. "We need to adapt science and technology to Africa's needs." The Minister then called on the community to "recognise and act upon the need for cooperation in science and technology".

The AfDB's Resident Representative in Morocco, Yacine Fal, remarked on the important role that science, technology and innovation play in achieving the Bank's core objective: namely to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth for Africa.

"The AfDB is focused on developing qualifications and technology," stated Fal. She then discussed the Bank's recent investment in regional centres of excellence, designed to develop the under-represented skills that Africa needs to achieve transformation.

The Bank is committed to working closely with its clients to deliver inclusive growth through science and technological innovation, and has recently begun developing and promoting knowledge and skills infrastructures in pursuit of this goal. The Pan-African University is a perfect example of this commitment.

Recent studies have indicated a strong culture of innovation in African businesses, including those located in Fragile States. However, researchers and entrepreneurs across the continent require additional research and development funding to bring their ideas and projects to life. This funding gap could be filled by increasing R&D expenditure by just 1% of GDP.

Furthermore, Fal argued that the benefits of technology and science cannot be realised without solid legal frameworks and suitable public policies.

Other speakers at the Forum included representatives of UNESCO, ISESCO and Finland, as well as various academics and experts.

All speakers agreed that the Forum was an opportunity to "grow" new ideas and develop new "formulas" for tangible projects to promote green growth in Africa.

"We must present a united front in our ambition to deliver effective transformation in Africa, driven by creativity, research and innovation."

The Forum was attended by Ministers for Science and Technology from several African states, along with representatives of academic communities and NGOs. The Forum expressed its satisfaction with the expert contribution of the AfDB.

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