President Paul Kagame has advocated for the consideration of African technical expertise during the implementation of projects as opposed to always outsourcing them as if often the case.
President Kagame was Monday speaking at the Next Einstein Forum 2018, a global gathering convening over 1500 scientists, businesspersons and policymakers.
The Forum is organised by The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in collaboration with Robert Bosch Stiftung, a German Foundation.
Kagame said that often, technical expertise from Africa is not considered as governments and private entities outsource suppliers from outside the continent.
“Too often, it is just assumed that technical expertise is unavailable in Africa. Governments are as guilty as big companies in this regard. We keep going back to the same external suppliers for solutions, without making every effort to procure the services here. It doesn’t make sense,” The President said.
Kagame called for the use of African specialists to give them a chance to grow and compete professionally.
“Let’s use the resources we have to give these talented African specialists the chance to grow and compete professionally,” he said.
Though doing so might come at an extra cost, the Head of State said that it will only be for the short term.
“There may be some extra costs in the short term. But doing so will not only build our institutions but increase our capacity for international collaboration as well,” he added.
This would undo a scenario whereby for far too long, the continent has been left behind in regards to scientific advancements, he said.
In the quest to catch up with the rest of the world, he said that women and girls should not be left behind.
“As Africa catches up to the rest of the world, we cannot afford to leave our women and girls out of the equation. The gender gap in science is a global phenomenon, but that is no reason to accept it as inevitable. Whatever the causes may be, we have to dedicate ourselves to closing the gap, because the opportunity will never be equal without equal access to knowledge,” he said.
Kagame on Africa catching up with the rest of the world
He called for the development of ecosystems whereby progress in science goes beyond passing knowledge to applying know-how to address African and global problems.
“It is not just about filling heads with information and performing well on exams. The purpose is to apply that knowledge to solve the problems facing our continent and our world. That requires an innovation ecosystem in which government, business, and educational institutions all reinforce each other,” he said.
Further progress can be achieved through creating linkages and partnerships between higher learning institutions, firms and research communities.
“Scientific research is fundamentally about cooperation across borders. Its global character accelerates the process of discovery and multiplies the benefits. We do not aim to create an autonomous African science that operates in isolation. That would defeat the purpose. We are working to fully connect Africa to the global networks that have been so productive,” the President noted.
Prof. Neil Turok, the founder of The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) said that it was encouraging that at a time when most parts of the world were dividing in the lines of nationalism and protectionism, African countries were coming together to cooperate, making advancements in science among other fields.
Dr. Eugene Mutimura, the Minister for Education, called for increased cooperation among African countries in supporting emerging African scientists.
“We need to forge partnerships as countries to support and encourage the next African scientists as they are the ones that will lead the upward scientific trajectory of African innovation,” he said.