Science & Tech

2018 Africa STI Forum Opens in Cairo

On Saturday, February 10, the third edition of the 2018 Africa STI Forum, focusing on science, technology and innovation, opened in Cairo, Egypt. It is co-organized by the African Development Bank and the Egyptian Government.

The annual Africa Science, Technology and Innovation Forum just opened in Cairo. Photo: African Development Bank.

On February 10, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi attened the opening ceremony alongside the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, and the Egyptian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Khaled Abdel Ghaffar.

The theme of the 2018 edition – "Enhancing the competitiveness of the African private sector and transforming Africa through science, technology and innovation" – aligns with the Bank’s Ten Year Strategy and High 5 development priorities.

The Forum gives priority to innovation in five areas selected for their great potential to boost and transform the economies of the continent: climate change, nutrition, water, ICT and the pharmaceutical industry.

Why the Forum?

It is now clear that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are crucial, both for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and African Development Bank’s High 5 development priorities, and for stimulating economic growth and leading to the transformation of African economies. STEM subjects have enormous potential and future prospects for the creation of employment and wealth – an opportunity to be seized by an Africa facing high rates of youth unemployment.

However, the continent lags behind other regions in science, technology and innovation. Although it it has 13.8 million students, fewer than 30 per cent of them are taking STEM courses.

For Africa to catch up, it needs to train its own scientists, pioneers and innovators. To do this, it needs to have a sharper focus on STI and strongly boost STI funding.

African countries are still struggling to meet the ambitions of the Lagos Plan adopted in 1980, to devote 1 per cent of their GDP to research and development. In late November 2017, the Abidjan Appeal, launched by African scientists and parliamentarians at the 5th African Union-European Union Summit, called again for greater investment in science and technology.

Egypt, the host of the third edition of the Africa STI Forum, is one of the continent’s highest-achieving countries in science and technology, particularly at the forefront of chemistry and engineering. Egypt hosts some of the best universities and institutes of excellence in Africa.

The last edition of the forum took place in Rabat, Morocco, in 2014, two years after the first Africa STI Forum was hosted by Kenya.

In addition to the invaluable support of the Republic of Korea and Japan, the Forum is supported by approximately 20 prestigious institutional and private partners, including the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNESCO, the World Bank, and the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) hosted by the Bank.

For information on the Forum, or to register, visit: http://bit.ly/2FVeOtb