WINDHOEK, 22 JUL – Policy makers in Africa must provide funding for high level development of graduates and support for both established and emerging researchers in order to achieve the goals of the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA).
This call was made by the Minister of Higher Education and Training of South Africa (SA), Naledi Pandor at a memorial lecture for Professor Calestous Juma held here recently.
STISA was adopted by African leaders at the July 2014 African Union (AU) Assembly.
It focuses on Africa’s science, technology and innovation investment in six socio-economic benefit areas of eradicating hunger and ensuring food security in Africa.
Other areas include preventing and controlling diseases and ensuring human welfare in Africa and improving intra-African communication through investing in physical and digital infrastructure. Also, protecting Africa’s natural resources and building African communities, addressing aspects such as democratisation, urbanisation and conflict resolution and creating wealth for Africa.
Pandor explained that policy makers need to have a concrete science agenda with key focus areas clearly articulated to scientists and formally funded by governments.
She said effective science policy needs international partnerships and such links will allow policy makers to form associations to multiply access to resources in the form of access to research infrastructure and funding for collaborative teams.
Evaluation must be included, particularly regular review and the existence of reliable and effective data gathering institutions that report regularly on the system and provide quality data that can be used to reform where necessary, she added.
Evaluation criteria must also include a focus on indicators of performance that measure research output, she stressed.
“Many countries in Africa do not have all these features and they also tend to be isolated from international collaboration. We all need to strengthen our efforts at inclusion as we can no longer be satisfied with the inadequate innovation capacity of Africa,” Pandor noted.
Born in Busia in western Kenya, Juma was a scholar who championed the cause of innovation and technology in transforming African countries. His books and papers about the environment, biotechnology, education, artificial intelligence and the politics of land in Africa made him a towering figure both on the African continent and across the world.
He died on 15 December 2017 at the age of 64.