Freelance journalist, SciDev.Net
The African Conference on Science, Technology and Innovations for Youth Employment, Human Capital Development and Inclusive Growth opened in Nairobi on Sunday with calls for tangible action to use science and technology to fight youth unemployment and poverty.
Speakers at the first day of the conference said the time had come for the continent to use knowledge already in its possession to tackle these double malaises which continue to afflict the continent even as scientific and technical advances continue to be made around the world.
“It is now quite clear that the ability of African countries to achieve rapid and inclusive development and [the] ability to compete in the global market lies in their ability to use science and technology and to creatively innovate, ” said Margaret Kamar, Kenya’s Minister for Education, Science and Technology.
“It is only through this that Africa governments will be able to address some of the most pressing challenges of human capital development and youth unemployment,” said the minister at the opening of the conference.
The forum — the very first of its kind in Africa — is sponsored by the United Nations Education and Science Council (UNESCO) and the African Development Bank (AFDB).
It aims to generate concrete steps and points of action including a “Nairobi Declaration” on a way forward that addresses the conference’s main themes and the measures that need to be taken to actualise the dream of African economies driven by ST&I.
Delegates include government ministers, bureaucrats and civil society activists and representatives from the private sector.
Lamine Ndiaye, President of the African Academy of Sciences urged the continent’s governments to increase funding for ST&I, saying the traditional apathy of funding for ST&I would not work for Africa.