Invest in technology, African leaders urged
By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
AFRICAN leaders must close the region’s science and technology gap to take full advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Africa’s failure to advance in science and technology has been compounded by the fragmentation of its markets, according to the former President of Mauritius, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim.
Ms Gurib-Fakim said this would require collaboration and partnerships to create the right conditions to develop centres of excellence on the continent.
She this at the African Export-Import Bank’s (Afreximbank) fifth annual Babacar Ndiaye Lecture on “the importance of science, technology and innovation in the transformation of African economies.”
“Academia, governments and the private sector would have to collaborate much more closely to ensure the funding is provided and that the conditions for science to thrive are put in place,” Ms Gurib-Fakim said.
She observed that the deficit of investment in science and technology and absence of economic and scientific infrastructure has undermined the process of economic transformation both at the structural level and at the sectoral level.
“The consequences of that deficit have been significant and include continued reliance on the colonial model of resource extraction largely responsible for the debilitating poverty trap and aid dependence trap,” Ms Gurib-Fakim said.
And President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, Benedict Oramah, said the most competitive countries in the world were also the ones leading in ICT, innovation, scientific research and development.
“Africa cannot be kept at the back of the queue,” Professor Oramah said.
He also stressed the need to foster the collaboration between research and industry to further enhance the growth and development impact of scientific discovery across the region.
Professor Oramah pointed out that “while the AfCFTA was a necessary condition for the transformation of African economies, it was not a sufficient one, especially in a world where trade has been largely driven by manufactured goods with increasing technological content.”