Africa’s Push Towards Scientific Independence

While Africa has a long way to go towards scientific independence, there are very real initiatives and future changes that could one day make it a reality. One man pushing for change is Alvaro Sobrinho, who chairs an organisation encouraging scientific independence.

Helping Inventors in Africa

On the investment front, Microsoft launched their 4Afrika IP Hub initiative in June 2014 to help inventors in Nairobi protect their rights to intellectual property (IP). The idea being that for a long time developers in Africa have had to work within an informal economy that hasn’t showcased their potential to investors enough. With this initiative, developers can take advantage of more opportunities to make money while scaling up their operations. Currently, African investment opportunities are most promising in Tanzania, according to Alvaro Sobrinho.

Encouraging Needs-based Innovations

Staying on the subject of innovation, the realisation that changes in education are required to alter the African economy for the better are being brought into sharp focus. Currently, the economy in Africa is focused on production and invention, but many believe a drive towards needs-based innovation is required to solve the many problems with agriculture today, and education can play a big part in this. One of the leading proponents in the push for greater scientific activity in Africa is Alvaro Sobrinho, Chairman of the Planed Earth Institute.

The Role Education Needs to Play in Transforming Africa’s Economy

In Africa, fewer than 10% are registered for tertiary education despite the demand from companies for skilled employees and the rise of many private institutions. The result of this is a lack of science, technology and innovation (STI) and a greater focus on marketable qualities that earn more money. Since the 1980s, Africa has focused on social-economic challenges and funding has, even in education, mainly been put towards endeavours not related to higher learning. To importance of science towards the health of the continent’s future economy was explained in detail back in2013 by Sobrinho.

Focusing on the Right Skills in Africa

While there are concerns for science and technology education in Africa, there is still progress in many places. At Ashesi University in Ghana, there is an increasing focus on STI skills in a market that badly needs them. The University is collaborating with employers to give them what they require. Throughout Africa, collaborations are becoming more apparent, according to National Research Foundation executive director Dr Aldo Stroebel. Many experts say that improvements in STI engagement and education will have positive effects for the future development of Africa.

Real Change Needs to Involve Policy Makers

Policy change is seen as an important area to focus on in the push to encourage STI. Recently, this area of change has been the focus of national policy at high levels of power in Africa. A strategy called the STISA-2024 is seen as a significant move in this direction, and a recently announced STI trust fund for the future was announced by ministers in Africa, adding further encouragement.