African Ministers Summit: ‘Countries can no Longer Ignore the Science Agenda’

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The Chairman of the international NGO the Planet Earth Institute, Dr Álvaro Sobrinho, pledged this week that African countries can ‘no longer ignore the science agenda’, as the Institute confirmed their involvement with the 7th Annual Meeting of African Ministers this March in Abuja, Nigeria.

The meeting, jointly hosted by the United Nations Commission for Africa and the African Union, will bring together African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development under the banner of ‘Industrialization for Sustainable and Inclusive Development in Africa’. Dr Sobrinho will lead a delegation of African scientists, academics and policy-makers to Abuja to host a workshop on the role of science in the industrialisation and broader development agenda in Africa. During the conference, Dr Sobrinho and the PEI delegation will meet with leaders of the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa to again promote the continued investment in science, technology and innovation on the continent, as the two most prominent organisations at the heart of this agenda. To date, only three countries in Africa have met the 1% of GDP investment target for science and research development made almost a decade ago (Uganda, Malawi and South Africa).

Following on from agreements and pledges made by ECA member States in 2013 relating to the development of their industrial policies, this Conference will focus on implementation and the effective creation of nationalised roadmaps for industrial strategies. At this stage, Dr Sobrinho believes, it is ‘absolutely crucial to have scientific institutions and educational representatives involved to help design and develop these industrial programmes. The AU and ECA have been fantastic champions of the importance of scientific leadership, but we need to make sure science, technology and innovation is embedded throughout this industrialisation process. If Africa truly believes in the principle of sustainable development through industrialisation, we must make sure we are science and technology-led – not reliant on industrial development by foreign-investment alone. And moreover, we must invest in developing our local abilities to lead this agenda, as Africans.’

‘The last ten years has seen a revolution in the way science is viewed on my continent. But the next ten years must do even more. These ministerial meetings are absolutely crucial to mainstreaming science, technology and innovation across governments and throughout administrations, are having the buy in of various leading ministries and departments. If we are to succeed in scientific independence for Africa, we must continue to ensure this agenda is not just scientists and science-ministries, but for us all.'

The Planet Earth Institute delegation will travel to Abuja from March 27th – April 1st.

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