NEPAD Agency Head of Industrialization, Science, Technology and Innovation (ISTI), Prof. Aggrey Ambali says now is the time for Africa to invest in its youths to bring about a paradigm shift that can increase domestic participation in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). Prof. Ambali believes this resonates well with the 2017 African Union (AU) theme: Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youths as adopted as the AU Summit in January 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“We must invest and develop the capacity and competence of the African youths to improve the application of Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa”, Prof. Ambali asserted.
Africa has to develop its STI and this begins with the youths. According to Prof. Ambali, Africa has to take this approach and invest in the youths to build a generation of entrepreneurs and not job seekers. Science, Technology and Innovation are key drivers of economic growth and development and it is the youths that can sustain these drivers. This is in agreement with the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy (STISA-2024) which provides a framework that supports the building of a solid foundation for African youths.
Youths must take advantage of the space provided by different programmes implemented by the NEPAD Agency to build their confidence and get involved in programme delivery systems. NEPAD Agency is implementing several programmes that directly benefit the youths because it is the youths of today who shall witness the realization of the full vision and aspirations of the AU Agenda 2063. The youths are the biggest beneficiaries of the programmes implemented by NEPAD and there is no doubt they represent the organization’s biggest clientele.
The biggest asset we can give our youths is education and knowledge. Hence, it is for this reason that ISTI implements programmes in education and training for the African youths, as well as capacity and skills development. ISTI focuses not only on tertiary education at University level in fields such as Engineering, but also at all levels including technician level.
Africa boasts of an increasing population of youths and there is a growing need to improve the health of these youths so they can effectively contribute to development and efficient service delivery. ISTI has health programmes that improve African youth’s access to medical technologies and services, as well as improve public health through efficient technologies and innovation in public service delivery.
Prof. Ambali calls Africa to impart the necessary skills to our youths to make them more assertive and build their appreciation of the African We Want. The youths are no longer on the periphery of the African development agenda, they play a huge role that has to be nurtured through sustained investments to harness the demographic dividends.