Africa: poor but rich

Science can change Africa?

Informal settlements (commonly known as shacks) in South Africa do not only mirror poverty, or the government’s struggle to provide basic amenities for its people, they are also a sign of a potentially great resource – they are a recruiting ground for future scientists. This is the view of Barry Green, director of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) based in South Africa.

Africa's main resource - its people - must be properly trained. Credit: Flickr/US Army Africa

Green said Africa has much potential. But it remains untapped as its main resource – its people – need to be properly trained to define their future.

In its efforts to change this, AIMS has been offering post-graduate study to Africans in mathematical sciences. It is also expanding its learning institutions across the continent.

Science is a formidable force that can improve the fortunes of Africa but it needs to be pursued with relevant policies and support, Ochieng Ogodo, SciDev.Net news editor for Sub-Saharan Africa, told the session.

In terms of innovation Africa is not putting new products on the market. Climate change is already wreaking havoc on the continent and water access was a huge problem.

Ogodo said the solution lay in African home grown science solutions. But, long and hard as the road to scientific emancipation might seem in Africa, the key message from the session was that locally credible research and appropriate policies were critical to turn fortunes of a rich but poor continent.

Munyaradzi Makoni, SciDev.Net contributor in South Africa

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