Science and Tech Seen as Key to Africa’s Future Prosperity

The fight against poverty, hunger, and environmental challenges in Africa received a renewed focus on science, technology, and innovation (STI) at a summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

African leaders, delegates, and experts gathered at the two-day African Science, Technology and Innovation Forum, co-organized by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union Commission. They emphasized STI as a critical tool for continental development across sectors like agriculture, industry, and poverty reduction.

Ethiopia’s Minister of Technology and Innovation, Belete Moll, highlighted fostering innovation in agriculture, clean energy, and healthcare as key drivers for job creation and poverty reduction. He cited Ethiopia’s efforts in food security as a model, including initiatives to boost agricultural productivity, achieve self-sufficiency, and combat climate change.

The urgency for Africa to invest in human capital, research and development, and harnessing emerging technologies like artificial intelligence was stressed by Antonio Pedro, deputy executive secretary for programme support at the ECA. He emphasized the forum’s role in promoting collaboration, technology transfer, and scaling up STI policies to accelerate progress.

Lidia Arthur Brito, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences at UNESCO, advocated for international scientific collaboration as a pathway to peace and sustainable development. She underscored the potential of science linked to local communities for socio-economic growth and empowering youth to address environmental challenges. However, she highlighted the critical challenge of financial sustainability for many African tech hubs, relying heavily on external funding.

The European Union’s commitment to supporting Africa’s STI journey was highlighted by Javier Pérez, ambassador for the EU delegation. He emphasized a €279 million investment for research and innovation to support both the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Africa’s Agenda 2063. He concluded by emphasizing the crucial role of empowering young people and women as future technology leaders for transformative change.

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