African countries need to improve S&T policies and use technologies more effectively – Experts


ECA Press Release No. 60/2011

Addis Ababa, 04 May 2011 (ECA) - A session on Technical and Policy Issues in the area of Science and Technology (S&T) was held on Wednesday during the Second Session of the Committee on Information, Science and Technology (CODIST II) at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. Four experts in the field made presentations on the current situation regarding industrial development, innovation, intellectual property and competitiveness on the continent.

Dr. Willie Siyanbola, Director General of the National Center for Technology Management (NACETEM) in Nigeria, said in a presentation on “Policy guidelines relating to scientific and technological activities for industrial development” that the contribution of manufacturing to the GDP remains low in many African countries due to low total factor productivity, low absorptive capacity and infrastructural decay.

Nigeria, he said, “has abundant resources and at the same time, a low manufacturing rate and fantastic policies on paper.” He added that the capacity is in place, but it’s not utilized.
In addition other obstacles to the countries industrial development include the lack of skilled personnel, the lack of financing in the sector, weak customer demand, legal restrictions and the high cost of innovation. Siyanbola recommended, among others, the need to develop competences in (industrial) policy formulation and implementation; promote entrepreneurial capacity-building and; foster regional collaboration through partnerships and networking.

The meeting was a useful indicator of where Africa currently stands with regards to its S&T policies and the recommendations needed for countries to implement on the ground according to ECA’s Information and Communication Service.

Dr. Benjamiin Lamptey from the Regional Maritime University in Ghana gave a presentation on the “Contributions of existing and emerging technologies to the industrialization of developing countries”. He stated that in many African countries technology is already widely used, “but it is not used effectively.” He called for assessments on the continent to establish how existing and emerging technologies can be used more effectively in the future.

Other presenters were Louis Mitondo Lubango, Scientific Affair Officer at ECA’s ICT, Science and Technology Division (ISTD), who talked about “The role of intellectual property and the contribution of creative industries to innovation and competitiveness”, and Dr. Towela Nyirenda-Jere, Interim Manager of the African Science, Technology & Innovation Indicators (ASTII) Initiative. She pointed out that 19 African countries have taken part in Phase 1 of the indicators project and received training on R&D and innovation as well as methods of data collection and the conduction of surveys.

Nyirenda-Jere said that major findings of the first phase will be published in the Africa Innovation Outlook which will be launched in Addis Ababa in the next two weeks. The next step for ASTII is the launch of Phase II which looks to expand the initiative to more countries and to add more indicators.


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