VICE-PRESIDENT Guy Scott has called on the region to focus on solutions tailored around science and technology in order to advance economic emancipation.
Dr Scott said science and technology advancement was key to unlocking the economic potential in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region.
He said this during the opening of the first COMESA ministerial meeting at Hotel Inter-Continental in Lusaka yesterday,
In a speech read for him by Mines, Energy and Water Development Minister, Christopher Yaluma, Dr Scott said science and technology, if properly harnessed, offered many opportunities for development in areas of vital importance in the region.
"The question we need to ask ourselves is, as a region have we done enough to utilise science and technology for development? Science and technology and innovation hold the promise to ultimately achieving better lives for our citizens and realising sustainable growth and development.
"The COMESA Treaty already provides for cooperation and promotion of science and technology among member States. However, what we need is to make serious and concrete decisions which we can follow through with implementation for this to happen," Dr Scott said.
He said the harnessing process for science and technology to help achieve development also required political leadership and policy coordination.
The Vice-President said policy making should be coordinated in strategies that engage the public and private sectors as vital partners.
He said intellectual property protection had a lot of bearing and would be instrumental in taking forward the process of mainstreaming science and technology in COMESA programmes.
COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya said it was important for countries to prioritise investment in both human and hardware capacity for science, technology and innovation development.
"We need to enhance collaborations and partnerships to increase adoption of new technologies that are appropriate to the region's economic development needs.
"There is need to refocus resources to result-based activities that impact on the people," he said.
He said exploiting and utilising science, technology and innovation such as biotechnology and Information Communication Technology could help provide long-term solutions to challenges in agricultural production, nutrition, education and health, among others.