xi's moments
Home | Africa

Investments in research key for Africa

By Edith Mutethya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-10-09 16:34

Increased investment in science, technology and innovation will be critical for Africa to realize its Agenda 2063, a blueprint and masterplan for transforming the continent into a global powerhouse, analysts have said.

According to the World Economic Forum, despite Africa being home to 15 percent of the world's population and carrier of 25 percent of the global burden of disease, it produces just two percent of the world's research output.

Africa holds 0.1 percent of the world's patents and only one percent of global investment in research and development is spent in the continent.

Africa is losing 20,000 professionals to high-income countries annually due to lack of opportunities in the continent, the organization said.

Cavince Adhere, a Nairobi-based researcher on China-Africa relations, said Africa has only 79 scientists for every 1 million inhabitants, compared with 4,500 in the United States and Britain.

This means the continent is in need of an additional 1 million new PhDs to achieve the global average of researchers per capita.

Adhere said that investment in infrastructure to support basic and applied research in Africa remains weak, contributing to the fact the continent produces just 1.1 percent of global scientific knowledge. This has also resulted in delayed industrialization of the continent.

"Despite huge resource endowments, a weak scientific base continues to hinder value addition of various raw materials, which continue to find relevance in export markets," he said.

Adhere is of the opinion that African countries have no choice but to invest in science, technology and innovation, either individually or collectively, to realize the aspirations of Agenda 2063.

He said that countries should strengthen universities and research institutions through improved funding, better working conditions and technology-transfer partnerships.

This should coincide with collaboration among governments, academia, and industry or the private sector.

"Universities should undertake research and innovate. It is however the role of the private sector to invest in the commercialization of research and innovation outputs," Adhere said.

He said African countries have many case studies around the world to learn from, citing China as a good example.

Classified as a developing economy barely three decades ago, Adhere said China has registered a phenomenal rise in scientific and technological innovation, becoming one of the strongest contributors to human wellbeing.

Raissa Malu, head of technical support unit in the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education in the Democratic Republic of Congo, said governments across Africa have not factored in the importance of research in economic development.

Malu said many governments are unaware of what's happening in research centers, despite research being vital for economic development.

She said there is need for forums where government, researchers and higher learning institutions can meet to discuss ongoing studies and improve research funding.

"Governments should give a chance to scientists to provide solutions to the problems affecting society. Through research, African countries can add value to their products, thus increasing their exports," she said.

Malu spoke of the need for public-private partnerships to ensure universities offer more practical training for the benefit of society and industry.

"Industry should also help universities to catch up with technological advancement," she said.

Adopted in 2015, the African Union (AU) Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 encourages countries to allocate at least one per cent of GDP toward research and development to ensure that the continent maximizes ownership and responsibility for its own development path.

According to the African Technology Policy Studies Network, in the entire Sub-Saharan Africa, only South Africa is approaching the AU's recommended target expenditure on research and development. Other countries are investing less that 0.5 percent of their GDP.

Through the science, technology and innovation strategy, AU expects member countries to eradicate hunger, achieve food security as well as prevent and control diseases.

This is in addition to physical and intellectual mobility, protection of space, building society, and wealth creation.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349