By Linda Asante Agyei
Addis Ababa, Feb. 26, GNA- The Acting Director, knowledge, management and programme, African Union Development Agency New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), Ms Florence Nazare, has called on African leaders to prioritise science, technology, and innovation to boost socio-economic development in Africa.
She noted that Africa had all it takes to move at the same pace with other continents in the area of biotechnology to enhance the emerging technology especially in the agricultural sector, to better the livelihoods of the people.
“Africa should push her own agenda to promote industrialisation because, we have the technical expertise and infrastructure to realise our dream of achieving the AU Agenda 2063, which advocates for structural transformation and people-centred development based on the strengthening of capacities in the areas of agriculture, industry and science technology and innovation.”
Ms Nazare made the call when a team of scientists, researchers, policy makers and journalists had a study tour to Addis Ababa, to learn from Ethiopia’s experience in fostering an enabling environment on genome editing and its regulations.
The five-day study tour, hosted by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia’s Bio
and Emerging Technology Institute (BETin) and coordinated by AUDA-NEPAD visited various research and institutions actively engaged in genome editing.
It also provided an opportunity for participating Member States to benefit from Ethiopia’s experience and lessons in genome editing and technological capabilities.
Participants from Ethiopia, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi where an appraisal of existing infrastructure and capacity for biotechnology and genome editing have been conducted to learn from Ethiopia’s experience in fostering an enabling environment on genome editing and its regulations.
Ms Nazare noted that to achieve the African Union Agenda 2063, which advocates for structural transformation and people-centred development based on the strengthening of capacities in the areas of agriculture, industry and science technology and innovation, African leaders, scientists, researchers, and all relevant stakeholders must be committed and put their shoulders to the wheel.
“We cannot continue to be on the market of other countries when we have equally capable scientists. From what we have seen here, I am convinced that there is hope for Africa. Let us see the science in action, let us use the science to transform lives, and apply the usable science to sell Africa,” Ms Nazareadded.
Africa is at the crossroads and that it is necessary to industrialize it. Before adding that “Africa must take off, this can only happen if we encourage innovation to transform lives.”
She urged scientists and researchers from member states who participated in the study tour to engage each other, inspire each other, build a base, and see what partnership they could form to solve problems and issues depending on the needs of each country.
“We are into science of necessity, science that is life changing. Let us use the science to transform all sectors-health, education, security, and the rest of the economy, build the next young generation to be inventors and Africa will be a better place for us and the generation to come,” she noted.
Participants visited Ethiopia Bio and Emerging Institution, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia University of Science and Technology Holeata Biotechnology Centre, Science Museum, Science and Technology Ministry, Science Laboratories, and Maize Field Trial, to learn about Ethiopia’s science agenda.
Dr Kassahun Tesfaye, Director General of BET called for the need to Africanise some of the technologies including genome editing to address some of the problems with food security.
He called on African leaders to put more resources into research and development to realise the “Africa we Want,’ adding that, “Without science, Africa will not go anywhere. African leaders should keep the promise of putting one per cent of their GDP to science, technology and innovation and believe in the science.”
He explained that Africa had relevant skills across the continent. Therefore, creation of collaborative environment with joint efforts was necessary.
Dr Dejene Girma Director of Agri-biotechnology Ethiopia Institute of Agricultural Research, noted that Africa was endowed with expertise and the needed resources, and called for on African scientists to synergise and develop one data base to share best practices.
He reiterated the need for African leaders to exhibit commitment and financially support Research and Development as well as devote resources to science technology and innovation to enable African scientists give off their best to address the developmental and societal issues facing the continent.
Dr Seth Awuku Manteaw a Principal Research Scientist and the Director of Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research -Institute for Scientific and Technological Information (CSIR-INSTI) sharing his experience commended Ethiopia for the commitment and dedication to research, science technology and innovation spearheaded by the Prime Minister.
He acknowledged the fact that Africa had the potential to use STI as a tool to change the fortunes of Africa. what is lacking is the commitment at the level of leadership.
H said: “For us to realise the benefits from science and technology and innovation, we need to have stainable mechanism of funding research, which Ghana, is lacking.”
He identified lack of coordination of efforts from researchers (universities) and scientists and called for the need for researchers and scientists to coordinate efforts or the need to have the point of convergence.