Africa meet to focus on innovation and knowledge sharing

Speakers at the upcoming African Economic Conference will explore how Africa can achieve inclusive growth

 
By Rajit Sengupta
Last Updated: Monday 17 August 2015

Africa’s stock of graduates is still highly skewed towards the humanities and social sciences, while the share of students enrolling in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics averages less than 25 per cent (Credit: African Development Bank)

How to improve innovation and knowledge sharing in African nations will be the cornerstone of the African Economic Conference scheduled to take place from November 1-3 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The annual event, hosted by the African Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme and UN Economic Commission for Africa, provides an opportunity to explore how to harness Africa’s knowledge industry for the continent’s transformation and inclusive growth.

The conferees, usually policymakers, researchers, development practitioners and cohorts from Africa and elsewhere, will explore extant knowledge generation approaches and frameworks, as well as the efficacy of Africa’s knowledge and innovation institutions in developing needed skills, technology and innovation capacities. They will also discuss policies required in knowledge generation and innovation to achieve Africa’s transformation agenda.

“A focus on knowledge and innovation and how they impact Africa’s transformation will help draw out a number of insights that rarely emanate from such conferences” says Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa, acting chief economist and vice-president, African Development Bank.

The AEC 2014 theme, “Knowledge and Innovation for Africa’s Transformation”, draws from the African Union Agenda 2063 and the African Common Position on its Post-2015 Development Agenda which identify science, technology and innovation as key pillars for Africa’s development.

The organisers say development of African countries “hinges on how fast and how well they acquire technological competences”.  Africa’s stock of graduates is still highly skewed towards the humanities and social sciences, while the share of students enrolling in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics averages less than 25 per cent, according to pre-conference briefs.

“The proliferation since the 1950s of institutions of higher learning and think tanks devoted to addressing the various challenges of Africa’s development has not brought about a significant narrowing of the continent’s skills/innovation gap,” they note.

In the area of soft skills, the World Bank notes that African enterprises can only develop “if they harnessed the needed skills and technologies to upgrade production processes”.

The conference will have plenary and break-out sessions featuring presentations and discussions by prominent academics, policymakers, business actors and opinion leaders, as well as representatives of peer organisations.


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