By Staff Reporter
THE industrial and economic growth of Africa will be shaped by an educational system design based on science, technology and innovation (STI) studies in the continent’s higher education learning institutions.
These were remarks made by the Higher Education Minister Amon Murwira at the third Africa Regional Science, Technology and Innovation Forum (ARSTI2021).
Addressing delegates at the forum, the minister said Zimbabwe was playing its part to support STI growth in Africa. The forum is being held in Brazzaville, Congo in situ and virtual.
“The STI that we teach will determine what our continent will become. Our industry must emerge from our classrooms and laboratories, supported by the correct educational system design and framework which no longer teaches students about ‘where they get things but how to make things,’” said Murwira.
He cited Zimbabwe’s education philosophy was now anchored on five pillars, teaching, research, community outreach, innovation and industrialisation.
Speaking at the same forum, the Director of Technology, Climate and Natural Resource Development at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Jean Paul Adam, said Africa could expand its economy by a staggering US$1,5 trillion, by capturing only 10% of the growing artificial intelligence (AI) market.
The continental AI market is set to reach US$15,7 trillion by 2030.
“AI growth can help in creating additional high value and decent jobs, diminish poverty, increase the productivity of firms, preserve the environment and foster better living conditions,” he said.
“Research has shown that AI has the potential to solve some of the most pressing challenges facing Africa and drive sustainable development in agriculture, health, infrastructure, financial and public services and climate change.”
Léon Juste Ibombo, Congo’s Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and Digital Economy, praised the ECA for its background work towards establishing the AI research centre, which, he said, “demonstrates Africa is innovative and uninhibited.”
The centre is being designed to improve the current landscape of Artificial Intelligence research in Congo and in Africa in general, to orient the use of AI to foster economic and social development, while promoting close collaboration between academia and the industrial sector in AI and robotics across Africa.
According to Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, such investments and strong partnerships in STI would accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa.
“Innovation cannot be decreed; it is planned and designed!” enthused Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Minister of Tourism and Environment of the Congo.
“Africa, therefore, has no excuse to be absent from the big rendezvous of innovation, which defines the 21st century,” she warned, adding that university dons, economists and, industrialists must come together to lead today’s learners into this exciting world,” the Congo minister added.