SCIENCE, innovation and technology are critical to the transformation of Africa in agriculture, industry and poverty eradication.

This was contained in a statement issued by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) at the end of a two-day African Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The forum was organised to herald the African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development.

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The STI forum is a pre-event organised by the ECA in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and other partners.

The theme of the forum was ‘Effective delivery of innovative science and technology solutions to reinforce the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063 and eradicate poverty in Africa.’

According to the stakeholders, Africa can build a more prosperous, just and sustainable future if countries invest in science, technology and innovation.

Mr Belete Molla, Minister of Technology and Innovation of Ethiopia, said fostering innovation in key sectors like agriculture, clean energy and healthcare can create jobs, improve livelihoods and lift millions out of poverty in Africa.

He said Ethiopia’s commitment to improving its agricultural sector and ensuring food security is a good example to be emulated by other countries in Africa.

“Ethiopia has developed a food system transformation roadmap and inaugurated several initiatives focused on boosting agricultural productivity, achieving self-sufficiency and combating climate change

“These initiatives include improving access to fertilisers, seeds and technologies for farmers,” he said.

Molla said Ethiopia had not only created a roadmap for food system transformation but actively implemented numerous initiatives.

According to him, these initiatives prioritise boosting agricultural resilience, achieving food self-sufficiency and combating climate change.

“The country recently amended its science and technology policy, placing a strong emphasis on fostering innovation and harnessing the potential of emerging technologies.

“The country has also enacted a national digital transformation strategy named Digital Ethiopia 2025,” Molla said.

On his part, Mr Anonio Pedro, Deputy Executive-Secretary for Programme Support at the ECA, said Africa must invest in human capital development, research and development (R&D).

Pedro said Africa should also invest in learning how to produce, sell and use emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and genomics that are transforming every aspect of life.

“Technology should advance the wellbeing of the millions of households, farmers, fishermen and many others that still use basic tools to lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

“Science and technology can play an important role in increasing the efficiency of service delivery to the poor, monitoring living conditions, predicting impending crises in crowded or remote areas and informing decision-making during crises,” Pedro said.

He said the STI forum is specifically designed to foster collaboration, the diffusion of technology and innovation and the scaling up of policy and operational efforts.

Pedro said this was to accelerate the contribution of science, technology and innovation to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

According to the ECA Executive Secretary, the STI forum has, over the years, grown to become a premier platform for addressing the opportunities and challenges that science, technology and innovation offer.

Pedro said this was for fostering strategic partnerships and implementation of scalable and innovative solutions.

He said in 2022, the forum inaugurated the Alliance of Entrepreneurial Universities in Africa.

“The alliance has since stimulated universities and their 19 million students in Africa to nurture start-ups aimed at creating 100 million jobs and generate $200 billion in revenue in 10 years.

“Similarly, in 2023, the continental problem-solving and innovation platform, Origin, was inaugurated in Niamey, Niger, as the first Origin Research and Innovation Hub for East Africa at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DeKUT) in Kenya.

“It has registered hundreds of problem solvers, has its own physical space, staff and partners from the private and public sectors.

“The ECA’s coding camps for girls and women are an example of how we can empower young women to become the next tech entrepreneurs and innovators.

“We have trained 2,000 young girls and women so far. However, to trigger transformational change, we must replicate these examples again and again across the continent,” Pedro said.

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