Scientific collaboration and collaborative research in Africa: lessons learned from the EU STI model for sustainable development

Scientific collaboration and collaborative research in Africa: lessons learned from the EU STI model for sustainable development 2017-12-18T14:13:56+00:00

The African Union (AU) recently launched Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA-2024), emphasises the critical role of science, technology and innovation (STI) for Africa’s socio-economic development and innovation-led growth. However, in its present form, STI is not working for everyone. In addition, the potentials for STI to help promote sustainable development (SD), by enhancing governance, business practices and public policies, is yet to be fully harnessed. In addition, STISA-2024 underscores the importance of collaborations between education and research institutions, private and public entities as well as among countries in the continent. Consequently, this presentation will focus on STI policies in the continent consider scientific collaboration and researcher’s mobility, as one of its pillars.

Scientific and technological co-operation between various African countries should be based on the identification of priorities and partnership in the implementation of joint research activities. Many research problems can only be tackled by working with and within African countries themselves, for example combating the results of climate change, diseases such as malaria, preservation of natural resources, fighting against land degradation or limiting the loss of biodiversity. African countries are considered as ‘hot spots’ of global research issues related to sustainable development, where sustainability is understood to consist of socially sustainable systems in addition to economic and environmental aspects.

Genuine STI partnerships are needed, not only in terms of technology but in the other factors affecting the success of collaborative R&D. While there is a need to acknowledge the internal diversity of various African countries in terms of policy formulation and their respective stages of development, one factor is common to their economic progress. African countries need to build effective, sustainable partnerships within the continent and with global STI actors, including the EU. Such partnerships will be critical in nurturing and delivering a receptive STI culture, making technological appropriability realistically feasible. The ultimate objective would be to build a knowledge-based society in Africa that has the capacity of utilising effectively information and ICTs, while being able to generate as well as to absorb new technology. Scientists are often hampered in their work by poor infrastructure and governance, limited funds, lack of critical mass of human resources and isolation.

It is hoped that the presentation will be a good opportunity for academics, researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and the public to reflect on their own experience with any STI partnerships within the continent. New perspectives on how these can be improved to better serve their goals will be developed. The talk will provide some conclusions and recommendations for policy makers to explore some of the opportunities from inter- and intra- institution and country scientific collaboration within the continent to achieve SD.

Allam Ahmed
Allam Ahmed
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