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Invest in science and technology, Africa told

By Davis Buyondo

Added 21st December 2017 03:30 PM

Science, technology and innovation minister Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye said Uganda will work with SA to advance innovation.

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Science, technology and innovation minister Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye said Uganda will work with SA to advance innovation.

PIC: Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation Dr Elioda Tumwesigye


Developing nations in Africa have been urged to focus, prioritise and promote science and technology ideas to solve social-economic challenges.

This was during the official opening of Science Forum South Africa 2017 at CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria. South Africa is the host country.

The global forum drew 2,700 people including leaders, scientists, governments, industrialists, students, civil society organisations and the media from around the Africa and the world. 

SA’s Vice-President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was chief guest, rallied all African leaders and organisations to invest in science and technology and focus more on empowering future generation, especially the youth with new ideas that transform the Africa continent.

According to Ramaphosa, such forums inspire young scientists and challenge them to explore all their creativity and rekindle hope in a world of unending possibilities.

“We need a world where imagination, innovation and scientific discovery allow us to dream of a better, more secure and more equitable future,” he said, adding that youth should be able to see themselves as agents of development through creativity.

Although constraints, mainly poverty and underdevelopment, are common in most African countries, he urged governments to push harder to ensure the existing ideas do not extinguish.

He said Africa should not only be consumers of technology, but also inventors and managers of technologies.

African youth and people with good ideas, he added, must see themselves as agents of development, working to redesign the urban environment, expanding transport networks and building new, more sustainable human settlements.

Ramaphosa expressed worry that the manufacturing and mineral beneficiation revolution that Africa has been seeking for many decades, will not happen if we do not undertake a massive science skills revolution for the people of the continent.

The country’s Minister for Science and Technology, Pandor Naledi, said the Science Forum has three objectives; to put science at the service of African society, to promote international collaboration and strengthen ties in order to have science stronger in Africa and internationally and to showcase African science and technology to the world.

She further explained that too little is known about the tremendous contributions African scientists make towards global science, yet there’s a rich and diverse portfolio of international collaboration.

However, in the fast-changing world, Naledi noted that Africans need to work with more energy to profile African countries as reliable partners of choice for global scientific cooperation.

“In South Africa, we invest in knowledge-based activities that are driven by the quality of the scientists we train, the quality of our research and development infrastructure, and the enablers we have put in place to turn scientific research into technology,” she said.

African Union
For Sarah Anyang Agbor, the AU Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, developing countries should strengthen their co-operation and share ideas on how to improve themselves.

She further urged African countries to learn from countries which have already invented and succeeded in their science or technologies. She believes that putting much focus on empowering the future science generation will transform Africa by all means.

Africa, she urged, must build its own capacity and come up with good policies that can transform society.

Uganda was represented by Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye, the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation. He said Uganda can do better if great science ideas are enhanced, promoted and facilitated.

He told the New Vision that he used the Science Forum to generate ideas that can work and transform the country. He also delivered a message concerning the enhancement of Science ideas, technologies and innovations in Africa.

“We are going to work with SA’s ministry of Science and technology to see how we can collaborate to realise social-economic transformation. And I have already secured a meeting with the minister - Naledi - concerning the same” he said.

Tumwesigye said President Yoweri Museveni has instructed him and other ICT officials to start programmes and begin agencies and set institutional frameworks that will promote science and technology in the country to address different challenges.

He further said that since most of the jobs have been taken by artificial intelligence such as computers, there’s need to promote new technologies to spur transformation.

Tumwesigye added that Uganda has borrowed $24m, of which $6m will be used to support Makerere University in the nanotechnology project, and Mbarara University to promote research and indigenous science. He said a portion will go to Nkozi to promote agro-ecology to allow animals and plants to co-exist.

He said Uganda and other developing countries can learn from SA's cutting edge  drug and vaccine development for infectious diseases, such as HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.  

Global experts have also advised developing countries to create a conducive environment to lure back scientists and researchers who went abroad for greener pastures.

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