Expert group meeting on governing STI for sustainable development opens in Addis Ababa

Science, technology and innovation resources should be strengthened, mobilized, rationally allocated, efficiently used and effectively promoted and appreciated if STIs are to fulfil their role of helping Africa attain sustainable development, Kasirim Nwuke, Chief of New Technologies and Innovation in the Economic Commission for Africa’s Special Initiatives Division, said Wednesday.

In his opening remarks at the beginning of a two-day Expert Group Meeting on Governing STI in Africa to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, Mr. Nwuke said STI resources such as human capital, facilities, funding and technologies are generally not equally or evenly distributed at national and regional level.

Urging member States to address this anomaly, he said these resources, either in the private or the public sector, are also not fairly allocated to the development goals.

“In both cases, STI resources needed to meet some of the development goals, such as improved health, industrialization aspirations and low carbon growth paths, may be inadequate or located in portfolios of different ministries or institutions,” said Mr. Nwuke.

He said this results in tension, adding managing this tension along with other issues requires good governance of STI.

“Good governance, therefore is needed to set the right structures, process and policies to ensure STI resources are effectively mobilized and applied within and across sectors, and geographical boundaries,” Mr. Nwuke said.

A good governance architecture, he said, would help ensure STI resource gaps are identified quickly with measures to build the needed capacity receiving priority over others.

“In other cases, governance may force institutions with complimentary STI resources to work together to quickly bring about change in the lives of our people,” the New Technologies and Innovation Chief told delegates and experts from member States attending the meeting.

“Innovation does not know limits and thus we must allow enough room for experimentation and learning as we cannot tell what the future will be like,” said Mr. Nwuke. He added governance of STI cannot be completely divorced from country or regional governance systems within which STI operates.

He urged member States to “design optimal for its purposes STI governance structure and create STI policy making institutions that best respond to their situation”.

Mr. Nwuke said the meeting presents the continent an opportunity to review and share experiences on how the governance of STI is designed, not just to improve the efficiency and productivity of the STI institutions themselves, but also to translate those successes into tangible progress in efforts to meet not just the SDGs and the aspirations of Agenda 2063 but also Africa’s future needs.

He said STI has and continues to play a critical role in Africa’s economic and social development.

“Hope has returned and Africa’s narrative of a resurgent continent has held firmly,” he said, adding STI has been and remains the main undergird of Africa’s transformation aspirations.

Participants will discuss a number of STI-related issues, including how governing STI can help accelerate the realization of the continent’s development aspirations.