Africa’s STI sector seriously deprived of skill and capacity


Africa currently has a huge shortage of 4.3 million engineers and 1.6 million agricultural scientists and researchers, according to the newly launched Africa Capacity Report.

The report was launched in Addis Ababa on Tuesday during a ceremony organized by the African Capacity Building Foundation as well as the Horn Economic and Social Policy Institute, with the attendance of different government officials.

The Africa Capacity Report is based on studies that have been done in 44 African countries and focuses on building capacities in science, technology and innovation in order to drive Africa’s transformation.

The report is expected to fire up African leaders, who have shown a huge interest in fostering science, technology, and innovation (STI)-led development in the coming years, to implement their commitments, moving forward. This commitment was clearly expressed by the adoption of a 10-year Science, Technology, and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024) in June 2014 at the 23rd Ordinary Session of African Union Heads of State and Government Summit.

“Science and technology is a key instrument in the social and economic development of any society. It is understood that countries with strong science and technology capabilities enjoy a high standard of living while others who lack this capacity are forced to live a meager level of existence even though they may be endowed with vast resources, such is the case for many African countries,” said Dr. Mebrahut Meles State Minister of Industry.

The State Minister further added that the global situation has disclosed that a development effort which is not backed by STI capabilities and commitments will lack assurance of continuing progress and that Ethiopia had recognized the important role and urgent need for innovation to increase the country’s sustainable development, and so the country adopted an STI policy in 2012.

“Even though two-thirds of African countries have STI policies and strategies, their capacity, to implement those remains very low,” said Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation. He also said that most African countries have underdeveloped SIT institutions and fail to effectively generate and deploy knowledge and technological innovations for socioeconomic development.

“You would notice this in how STI institutions are inadequately staffed with skills, expertise, financial resources, infrastructural capabilities, and equipment,” he added.

The strategy links science, technology, and innovation to Africa’s sustainable economic transformation. Developing the right capacities for institutions and individuals together with the investment needed for such capacity to be retained and utilized in Africa is, therefore, crucial.