-Africa’s leaders must make conscious efforts to develop new science, technology and innovation policies to accelerate the socio-economic development of the continent.

Professor Margaret Kamar, Kenya’s Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology who made the call, disclosed that her government had taken a giant leap by developing a new STI policy, legislation and innovation systems to entrench the policy into the national development agenda, which must be emulated by the rest of the continent.

She was speaking at the first Africa Forum on STI for Youth Employment, Human Capital Development and Inclusive Growth in Nairobi, Kenya at the weekend.

Prof Kamar said as part of the policy strategy, university and tertiary education and training has similar boost towards the implementation of sound STI to spearhead development.

She expressed the conviction that this strategy will reposition the continent  to survive in the fast growing globalized knowledge-based world.

“We believe these strategies will broaden the scope, policy, strategy, quality and quantity of teaching and learning of STI towards the continent’s rapid growth,” Prof Kamar said.

She also expressed the optimism that resolutions adopted at the end of the sessions will move Africa forward. “This is the time to move from declarations, resolutions and models to real action. I hope the resolutions to be adopted will move Africa forward.”

Mrs Aida Opoku-Mensah, UNESCO Director ICT, Science and Technology Division, UNECA said STI had the capacity to move the continent’s aspirations to the next level and the economic imperatives will be determined on how the continent  held the youth and contained them.

“Africa should invest its own resources in achieving the needed growth. This is time to be in the driving seat and refrain from depending on the agenda-setting of development partners,” she said, adding that the mindsets of academia, politicians, and civil society groupings should change towards mainstreaming STI for accelerated development.

“The continent ought to be knowledge producers and consumers of Africa’s contents than consumers of foreign products in all spheres” said Mr Kamal El Kheshen, Vice President AfDB.

He called for scaling up and collaboration of STI across board to engender social inclusiveness, competitiveness to help the informal sector to lead socio-economic development on the continent.

Gretchen Kalonji, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, said his outfit was championing strategies to support inclusive growth, employment opportunities and sustainable development in Africa.

Jean-Pierre Ezin, AUC Commissioner for Human Resources , Science and Technology, challenged the African Association of Sciences and the African University Associations to lead the STI crusade, fashion out a common strategy in order to network skills and resources to achieve accelerated development.

“Priority in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is driving the 2015 consolidated plan of action, which seeks to bring radical changes into the STI landscape in Africa”, he said.

The three-day forum is aimed to fast-track the development and implement sustainable solutions to Africa’s development challenges as well as mainstream entrepreneurship, SME development and innovation into the STI concept.

It was organized by the Kenyan government and the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union Commission,  the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and UNESCO, in collaboration with the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA).

GNA

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