ECA Press Release No. 62/2011
Addis Ababa, 05 May 2011 (ECA) - More than 800 participants attending the Second Session of the Committee on Development Information – CODIST II broke into thunderous applause today in Addis Ababa after concluding a set of recommendations that will see member states, in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa and its partners improve the status of Africa’s industrial development through greater emphasis and support for innovation.
Speaking at the closing session, Ms. Jennifer Kargbo, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) lauded the participants for their “collective support and commitment to the CODIST process” and for the important initiatives during the week, including the first Inter-Parliamentary Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation; as well as the Engineering Expertise to Improve Health Outcomes in Africa.
Ms. Kargbo said that the concept and practice of innovation, driven by the application of information, knowledge, science and technology to all aspects of development “is important to the continent’s development process.”
She pointed out that countries, like companies, “need to institute the necessary national innovation systems”. She noted that putting innovation systems could help “increase the continent’s ability to add value to exports” and decrease dependency on primary commodities that make up about 80% of Africa’s merchandise exports.
As a consequence, “significant investment in science, technology and innovation will be needed to ensure this transformation also takes place,” she stressed.
Ms. Kargbo urged the participants to take into account the needs of our people in rural areas, “it is in such places that innovation should be focused in demonstrating visible transformations.”
Three subcommittees - Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs); Science & Technology and Geoinformation held discussions in parallel and engaged in indepth discussions on current innovation strategies and industrial development plans. They each proposed recommendations that will see the continent create the requisite enabling environment to advance innovation and industrial development.
The recommendations emphasize political will as well as the development of local human resources/talents and regional integration as key ingredients to innovation.
Geospatial science and technology was highlighted as crucial to Africa’s sustainable development and that Science, Technology Innovation should be seen from a geospatial context.
The recommendations emphasize the importance of industrial technology transfer for Africa’s development and the role of Africa’s diverse languages that can help to enhance innovation.
Recommendations were made to African Governments to:
- Reaffirm their commitments to Science Technology Innovation (STI) and demonstrate commitments through budget allocations as per previous African Union recommendations of 1% of GDP;
- Work very closely with the private sector and financial institutions in enforcing National system of Innovations and Industrial development in Africa; and
- Undertake capacity building activities for technology transfer and adaptation.
Other recommendations urged ECA to:
- Document and disseminate African success stories on innovation and industrial development;
- Open up a dialogue of cultures by bringing stakeholders together through one single platform with diverse voices;
- Provide a platform and think tank of leaders and developers in the world of business, localization and social entrepreneurship; and
- Reaffirm and commit its support to the African Regional Spatial Data Infrastructure (ARSDI).
CODIST II brought together decision-makers, scientists, lawyers and journalists. The delegates and observers represented African countries, national, international, regional and subregional organizations and development partners.
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