9 March 2016

Africa: Science, Innovation Key to Sustainble Prosperity

Photo: Présidence de la République du Sénégal
Presidents Macky Sall and Paul Kagame at the Next Einstein Forum - CICAD Dakar

President Paul Kagame has called on African nations to scale up investments in research to increase impact of science in development.

The president was speaking at the opening session of the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) currently underway in Dakar, Senegal.

The forum, taking place for the first time on the African continent, has attracted over 700 participants from 80 countries who are deliberating on how best to support the emergence of Africa on scientific and technological level.

The forum which takes place every two years aims at aiming at positioning science at the centre of global development efforts, with main focus on youth.

Kagame said that the continent continues to fall short in terms of sufficient numbers of science and technology professionals.

"The pressure is on to catch up and keep pace so Africa is not left in the wake of technological progress."

"This starts with a change in our mindset. We really cannot be satisfied with just ending extreme poverty. Our aim is shared and sustainable prosperity. The key to that is science and innovation,bound by research."

President Kagame listed challenges facing the development of science in Africa including the need to invest in research and the low number of students enrolled in science and engineering.

Among the reasons for the continent to invest in research, Kagame said was that technology and skills are the support of economic growth and competitiveness.

"I can think of few missions more essential than enabling Africa's brightest students to flourish as independent thinkers," he added.

As a contribution to increasing the number of scientists in the continent, the president said that Rwanda was implementing a national science policy as well as joint initiatives with partners around the world.

The partnerships, the president said, will see Rwanda launch a national chapter for African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) and the global headquarters AIMS and the Next Einstein Forum.

"We are excited to host these valuable institutions in our country. We also look forward to welcoming you to Kigali for the next Forum in 2018," he said.

An agreement for the establishment of the institute in Rwanda was signed in February this year.

Experts say that the establishment of an Aims centre in Rwanda is expected to strengthen the scientific community in the country through an innovative mathematical curriculum that is relevant to the development issues currently affecting the country and the sub-Saharan African region.

The president said that another important milestone towards increasing the role of science in development was the oncoming launch Kigali Innovation city later this year targeting three key functions.

The innovation city will serve tech clusters for start-ups and established firms, a research and education campus anchored by Carnegie Mellon University and AIMS and an Innovation Fund that brings together government and private sector capital.

"Africa cannot accumulate wealth merely by consuming technologies produced elsewhere. The purpose of initiatives like Kigali Innovation City is to unlock value by better adapting technology to our economic and social context, as well as our current and future needs," President Kagame said.

He also called for increased investment in the continent's youthful population.

"Africa is young and growing, and that is our strength. Our continent's wealth tomorrow depends entirely on what we put in our children's heads today. They will lighten the world's burdens, not add to them," he said.

Later in the day, the President Kagame took part in a Presidential Panel alongside Senegal president Macky Sall deliberating ways to cultivate science, technology, engineering and mathematics talent for future global challenges.

Speaking during the panel session, he said it was important to make connection between the science and technology and relate them to goals desire want for the African continent.

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