Africa has improved its scientific and economic standing in recent years, but with food shortages and other difficulties on the horizon, solidifying and progressing improvements in trade, innovations and scientific independence has become all the more important.
The Man Helping Improve Africa’s Scientific and Financial Standing
As a philanthropist, businessman and champion of scientific independence in Africa, Dr. Álvaro Sobrinho has been front-and-centre when it comes to African development in recent years.
He is Chairman for the Planet Earth Institute, which is an organisation involved in improving Africa’s scientific footing, with the ultimate aim for Africa to be scientifically independent.
Scientific Activity in the Past Decade
Since 2003, Africa has been the focus of a lot of promising scientific activity, the catalyst of which was, it seems, the 2003 Science and Technology Ministerial Conference, the first to be held on the continent. Two years later, a Consolidated Plan of Action was put in place, paving the way for effective developmental strategies.
From 2003 to 2011, Africa welcomed an African Year of Science, saw pledges from governing bodies for increased investment in research and development, and put in place ways to monitor and measure progress.
Why Africa Needs to Consolidate Improvements in Science and Trade
Science and Innovation
While scientific presence in Africa has improved, the risk of progress being undermined is very real. The continent will have to deal with future challenges – food shortages and renewable innovations – so capitalising on the recent resurgence in science and innovation is vital.
According to Álvaro Sobrinho, Africa needs to find ways to integrate the population with science more, encouraging greater debate on the challenges that lie ahead. Right now, science needs to be more sustainable and integrated into African life, as investments and pledges are at risk of becoming superficial.
Business and Trade
Of course, for science to thrive, Africa needs to look at ways to improve its economy. Currently, the economy in Africa is growing at an average of 6% each year, but more can be done to improve trade within the continent.
As has been evidenced in China and India, if the infrastructure is put in place within a country to promote local trade, the overall economy will grow and become more stable.
Unfortunately, it is sometimes easier to trade internationally than locally in Africa because roads and transport networks are currently inadequate between many African countries, but that looks set improve with greater investment and new initiatives.
Continuing Development beyond 2015
A new year means a new agenda for the continent of Africa, with science, technology and innovation (STI) at the forefront of discussions. Consultations on development and sustainability have culminated in a strategy not just for 2015, but beyond. With STI garnering a lot of the focus, it will be interesting to see how commitments and pledges are implemented in the coming years as the continent strives for scientific independence.