Without advanced competencies in science and technology, no country, or region of the world is able to access the full power of–much less participate in creating–scientific research and technological tools to solve the many internal and trans-border health, energy, development and quality-of-life challenges confronting our globalized society. Furthermore, without advanced science and tech competencies, citizens of technologically underdeveloped countries are not able to develop an economically productive and independent middle class. To that end, the world is witnessing an increasing shift of development priorities towards greater emphasis and investments in higher education systems, STEM infrastructures, indigenous and industrial research and development capabilities.
Africa needs innovative policies that advance collaboration among governing systems, institutional structures, and funding mechanisms to accelerate Africa’s scientific emergence.
Africa governments are increasingly engaging science and technology at the cabinet level – making direct connections between innovation and socio-economic development. This engagement has translated in a creation of policy frameworks through the African Union, African Ministerial Council of Science and Technology (AMCOST), New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), Partnership for building skills and research capacity in applied sciences, engineering, and technology (ASET) regional economic communities and other partnerships.
There are also ongoing continental efforts to correct longstanding imbalances in higher educational systems through establishment of specialized universities and Centers of Excellence to complement existing higher education institutions. Some of these include:
- The African Institute of Mathematical Sciences – Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS-NEI);
- The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) in South Africa;
- The African Union’s Pan African Universities;
- The World Bank’s Centers of Excellence;
- Nelson Mandela Institutes of Science and Technology;
- The RISE network of the Science Initiative Group;
- The Economic Community of Central African States’ Poles d’Excellence Technologique Universitaires (PETU)
- UNESCO’s African Network of Science and Technology Institutes
Given the rapidly changing environment and potential for cross-border investment from international actors, there is need for innovative policies that advance collaboration among governing systems, institutional structures, and funding mechanisms to accelerate Africa’s scientific emergence – from promise to reality.
The NEF encourages integration of scientific and technological research and policies in African countries by advancing policy dialogues and mechanisms towards these goals. The NEF also features news related to STEM-related policy-making and science diplomacy around the world.