Addis Ababa, April 29: Speakers at the formal inauguration of CODIST-I in this diplomatic city gave a clarion call to all African nations to invest in ICT and science and technology and to take an approach that goes beyond the continent but at the same time developed by Africans for Africans. The conference had ‘Scientific development, Innovation and Knowledge Economy’ as its theme.
Welcoming the gathering, representative of Mr Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Secretary of Economic Commission of Africa (ECA), said Africa can no longer afford to be a laggard in the fields of science and technology. He said lack of infrastructure is inhibiting the exploitation of science and technology for the region’s growth and added that countries of the continent are slowly opening up to its importance and have started making national ICT policies. He stressed that investment in research in science and technology is a precursor for economic development and in building a knowledge economy.
In his opening remarks, Minister for Science and Technology, Government of Ethiopia, said that Africa cannot meet the millennium developmental goals (MDGs) like poverty reduction, food security, international competitiveness, provision of drinking water and sanitation without the innovative use of ICT and science and technology. Though Africa is late, he assured that there are encouraging signs of the effective use of S&T in countries of southern Africa though there are some optimisation challenges.
Prof Lidia Brito, former Minister for Science and Technology of Mozambique and lecturer at Eduardo Mondlane University, called for people-centric and inclusive policies to not only mobilize the social energy but to also create a culture of science. She said knowledge should be for public good. It should empower people and create new ethics.
Dr Wilbur Ottichilo, eminent scientist and member of Kenyan Parliament stressed on the potential of geo-information and highlighted the need to mainstream geoinformation in community management and development.
The speakers agreed that there are several challenges before the continent, the most important being lack of political will, availability of finances and scarcity of skilled human resources.