High level African tech panel prepares to meet
- Published on 03 August 2012
An African Union (AU) advisory panel, tasked with shifting the continent’s economies from being resource-led to technology-driven, is readying to have their first meeting this week in Egypt.
The eight-person ‘High Level Panel on Science, Technology and Innovation’ is planning to meet on 8-9 August 2012 at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt.
The purpose of their meeting is to prepare to guide the AU on the review process of Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA).
CPA, which was adopted by African ministers of science and technology in 2005 and endorsed by AU heads of state and government in 2006, is tasked with helping to shift the continent away from depending on resources for its economies to becoming more innovation-led.
The panel, therefore, will present their report at the African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology (AMCOST) this November in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo on how the CPA has been effective and even the challenges the plan still faces. The adopted review will further be presented to the AU Heads of State and Government Summit in July 2013 for approval.
A co-chair of the panel, Professor Calestous Juma of Harvard University, has told ITWeb Africa that transforming the continent’s ICT landscape is key, as physical resources, such as gold or platinum, are finite.
“Natural resources are exhaustible; knowledge multiplies.
“There is growing evidence that Africa’s economies are being transformed by innovation, the most visible being mobile technology. Our task is going to be to generate ideas that help Africa transform itself into a continent that relies on innovation,” he said.
Challenges facing the continent, in terms of becoming more innovative from a technology viewpoint, include providing high-level coordination for innovation covering infrastructure, entrepreneurship, higher education an international trade, according to Professor Juma.
However, Professor Juma told ITWeb Africa that the continent has made strides in electing technically-trained people to key offices including presidencies and premierships.
“We want to build on this and also strengthen science and technology advice to leaders. Currently, there are virtually no African heads of state that have science and technology advisors who provide systematic support. This needs to change,” he said.
The work of the panel is supported by a working group comprising representatives such as the African Union Commission, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), African Development Bank, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the African Academy of Sciences.
The overall review of the CPA is jointly coordinated by Professor Aggrey Ambali, head of the NEPAD Agency’s Science, Technology and Innovation Hub based in South Africa.
The other co-chair of the High Level Panel on Science, Technology and Innovation is Professor Ismail Serageldin of the Library of Alexandria.