Johannesburg, March 25, 2019 - African Heads of State and decision makers, through Agenda 2063 have highlighted science, technology and innovation as key enablers in promoting the ability of African countries to achieve their economic transformation and socio-economic development goals.
To this end, the first Specialised Technical Committee on Education, Science and Technology requested the African Union Commission and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) to advise Member States and Regional Economic Communities on matters of technology prospecting, including regulatory and ethical requirements that need to be put in place in order for the continent to benefit from emerging technologies. The Ministers further directed the Agency to establish a system for obtaining expert contribution on matters of technology development, acquisition, and deployment for socio-economic development.
It is in this vein that the AUDA-NEPAD, in collaboration with the African Union Leadership Academy is conducting a series of executive dialogues on emerging technologies for senior government officials of African Union Member States to strengthen mainstreaming of innovation and emerging technologies into policy and programming, in realisation of the Agenda 2063 goals.
The Calestous Juma Executive Dialogue on Innovation and Emerging Technologies (CJEDIET) was established by AUDA-NEPAD in honour of the late Prof Calestous Juma who was the co-chair of the African Union High Level Panel on Emerging Technologies and a pioneer of science and technology in Africa.
The first executive dialogue was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, for three days between 25 and 27 March, with the aim of igniting conversations around mainstreaming innovation and emerging technologies in development policy and programming. In conceptualising the dialogues, Prof Aggrey Ambali, Head of AUDA-NEPAD Industrialisation, Science Technology and Innovation indicated that the executive dialogues will improve the necessary critical mass of human capital needed for science, research and technology developmentrequired on the continent.
Dr Justina Dugbazah, Senior Education Officer at AUDA-NEPAD said that Agenda2063 and the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024)underscored the importance of science and technology, as well as emerging technologies in Africa's present day and future needs for development.
The African Union Leadership Academy’s Manager, Dr Muna Abdalla pointed out the importance of closing skills gaps in science and technology on the African continent.
The objectives of the executive dialogue were:
- To strengthen the knowledge and capacity of African executives, senior officials, decision and policy makers, researchers and academia on innovation and emerging technologies.
- To strengthen the capacity of senior policy and decision-makers to provide technical advice to governments in assessing and harnessing emerging technologies in their respective institutions and organisations.
- To enable stakeholders to provide evidence-based policy choices for African leaders in making informed decisions in harnessing emerging technologies.
The executive dialogue was attended by 40 participants from 22 countries. A comprehensive presentation on the African Union position, decisions and political authorisation on science, technology and innovation provided a foundation for deliberation on the importance of the topic at the highest political level. This was followed by a presentation and discussion on the work of African Union High Level Panel on emerging Technologies. Delegates also discussed various issues within the science, technology and innovation landscape in Africa, including specific technologies such as gene drive technology, micro-grids and drones and their contribution towards improvement of health, agriculture and well-being of communities.
Participants also visited the Innovation Hub in Pretoria, to enable them to further share knowledge, experience and best practices that can be replicated in their respective countries to inform policy and programming.
The second Calestous Juma Executive Dialogue will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in October, 2019, on the margins of the Grand Challenges annual meeting.
Source: African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD)