KIGALI, March 13, 2014 – At a high-level forum in the Rwandan capital today, H.E. President Kagame, President of Rwanda and World Bank Vice President for Africa Makhtar Diop highlighted Africa’s urgent need for larger numbers of scientists, engineers, and technicians who can meet the growing market demand for such expertise and contribute to development and shared prosperity in their countries.
Themed “Accelerating Africa’s Aspirations,” the forum on Higher Education for Science, Technology and Innovation was co-hosted by the Government of Rwanda, a champion of science and technology, and the World Bank, one of Africa’s largest development partners in higher education. The forum aimed to boost science, technology, and engineering capability as a key driver of economic growth and job creation.
The governments represented at the forum (Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda), private sector participants and development partners issued a communiqué today to the effect that they would invest strategically in science, technology, and engineering education to accelerate Africa’s progress into a developed, knowledge-based society within a generation.
H.E. President Paul Kagame said: "I welcome the commitment to strengthen and mobilise resources for building capacity in science and technology, in our pursuit of Africa’s socio-economic transformation. Our collective commitment must be followed by concrete action to drive innovation for the development of our people and our continent."
Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa, who delivered the keynote address, said:
“To be more competitive, expand trade, and remove barriers to entering new markets, Africa must expand knowledge and expertise in science and technology. Let us set some bold targets: that we will see a doubling of the share of university students graduating from African universities with degrees in mathematics, science and technology by 2025. The time has never been more auspicious to focus on higher education, particularly in science, technology and mathematics.”
In the concluding communiqué, countries present committed to collaborate with development partners and the private sector to support Africa’s socioeconomic transformation with strategic actions to reform tertiary education systems; increase the share of students in science, technology and engineering; and improve the quality of learning and research.
They also committed to use growing foreign direct investment flows to build greater technological capability, to enroll more women in science and technology disciplines, and to strengthen science and mathematics education at all levels.
The forum highlighted the importance of setting up regional centers of excellence in various disciplines such as agriculture, biotechnology, health, water and sanitation, and ICTs.
“Regional partnerships help universities to pool their resources, achieve economies of scale, set up joint facilities and standards, and most importantly, share knowledge and expertise,” Diop noted, “Beyond the borders of the continent, we need to tap the vast experience of Brazil, China, India, and Korea.”