Members of the African Union (AU) Specialized Technical Group (STG) on Science, Technology and Education (STE) statistics are meeting to share lessons learnt and best practises on the implementation status of the AU Education and Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) strategies and frameworks. The participants will also develop a joint work plan and communique with key recommendations to guide the harmonization of education, science and technology statistics and indicators in Africa.
The meeting is taking place from 13 – 15 February 2017 and contributes to the implementation of the AU strategy for the Harmonization of Statistics in Africa (SHaSA) through STGs. Prof. Hamidou Boly, the Commissioner for Education Science and Culture from the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) regretted the fact that education in Africa has relied on data collected elsewhere for too long. He said now is the time to build our own institutions and develop the required human capital because without these institutions and data, Africa will fail to address challenges of the future.
“The importance of data collection, analysis and dissemination is critical and must be anchored on the key AU policy frameworks and strategies that have been developed to provide the necessary roadmaps to ensure success and harmonization”, Prof. Boly said.
Prof. Boly was speaking on behalf of H.E. Martial de Paul Ikounga, AUC Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology (AUC/HRST). Speaking during the same meeting, Hambani Masheleni from AUC/HRST acknowledged the first positive deliverables on STI statistics with the production of two African Innovation Outlook reports at the AU level as a good sign of what is already happening on the continent to address the challenges of lack of data for monitoring and evaluation.
If data is the new oil, where are the refineries in Africa?
Dr Tichaona Mangwende from NEPAD Agency declared that data is the new oil and we must therefore ask ourselves an important question: if data is the new oil, where are the refineries in Africa? He said that these data refineries must be located where the data is found to fulfil the vision of the AU and its policy frameworks i.e. the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA 2024) and Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 2025).
“Data is a renewable resource and the information it generates builds knowledge which must then be shared using different platforms to be meaningful”, said Dr Mangwende.
Dr Mohamed Ramadan, representing Egypt which is the Chair of the AU Bureau of the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Education, Science and Technology (EST) said that statistics are important in measuring the effectiveness of policy and also in supporting decision makers in the assessment of Science and Technology. These words were echoed by the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) representative, Chemwi Mutiwanyuka. She stated that timely, up-to-date and accurate statistics are key to achieving statistical excellence in Africa.