The Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa Day 2023 is co-organized by the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Economic Commission for Africa. This significant event will take place on May 2nd, 2023, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The event aims to bring together stakeholders from around the world. It’s about building alliances and explore priority issues of science and technology in Africa.
Science Technology and Innovation – Critical Drivers
The theme of the event is, “STI4SDGs – Levers, Priority Areas, Actionable Steps for Africa.” It aligns with Agenda 2063 and the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA). Agenda 2063, which is Africa’s development plan, has identified science, technology, and innovation as critical drivers of economic growth and sustainable development. Similarly, STISA recognizes the crucial role of STI in achieving Africa’s socioeconomic development and competitiveness.
Relying solely on resource extraction as the basis for the developmental model in African countries is not a sustainable approach to development. We need different thinking and innovative approaches that expand opportunities and solve problems.
STI4SDGs African Priorities
The Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa Day 2023 will focus on priority areas of STI4SDGs. Youth, the African diaspora, the African Continental Free Trade Area, and the continent’s growing industrial base are key. The event will also coincide with the Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs 2023. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development established the Technology Facilitation Mechanism, which includes the forum.
Indeed, the event includes showcasing innovations, fostering collaborations, capacity building and policy dialogue, in line with STISA goals.
However, the event’s draft programme surprisingly does not mention STISA, which is Africa’s flagship STI framework outlining key actions and interventions for promoting STI across the continent. This is concerning, particularly given the current low levels of implementation and domestication of STISA. It is important for the event’s organizers to recognize the significance of advancing STISA and ensure that the programme adequately reflects its objectives. The day presents an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about STISA.
Moreover, the event’s in-person nature raises concerns that most STI stakeholders based in Africa won’t be able to attend. While it’s beneficial to have the African diaspora and the global STI community on board, the significance of having an adequate presence of stakeholders in Africa should not be ignored. Their ideas and contributions would certainly be of significant value. Therefore, the organizers should consider utilizing virtual platforms to ensure maximum participation from across the continent.
To sum up, the Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa Day 2023 is a vital event that creates a platform for promoting STI in Africa.
The event is well-aligned with the objectives of Agenda 2063 and STISA, and it plays a crucial role in driving socioeconomic development on the continent.
However, the organizers should consider exploring ways to increase participation from all over Africa, including the use of virtual platforms. I encourage all stakeholders to actively participate in the event and contribute to advancing Africa’s STI4SDGs priorities. Let’s ensure that the event results in actionable and impactful recommendations rather than just being a talk shop. Africa eagerly awaits the outcome of this event.
It needs to be more than a talk shop!
Author: Jide Awe
Science, Technology and Innovation policy advisor.
Find him on Twitter @jidaw