Experts at the just concluded two-day education forum for science, technology and innovation have stressed the need for collaboration among institutions to facilitate sharing of knowledge across the continent.
Convened by the government of Rwanda and World Bank under the theme “Accelerating Africa’s Aspirations,” the forum called for establishment of regional institutions and centres of excellence to leverage economies of scale.
Uganda’s Education Minister, Jessica Alupo, who spoke on behalf of fellow education ministers, presented the recommendations at the end of the forum on Thursday.
“Regional bodies are to facilitate the establishment of regional institutions, regional networks, clusters and centres of excellence for science, technology and innovation so as to [free up] economies of scale and promote knowledge sharing across our national boundaries,” Alupo said.
The participants resolved that it was through collaboration and cooperation that African institutions of higher learning would have strategic investments in science and technology needed to accelerate development of a knowledge-based society and create jobs.
The Minister of Education, Dr Vincent Biruta, noted that collaboration would help the continent develop skills to enhance productivity in various areas such as health and infrastructure development.
Makhtar Diop, the Vice President of World Bank, Africa region, said it was on the realisation of the importance of collaborative efforts that the World Bank supported the Africa Centres of Excellence Project, which will bring together universities across the continent to address common development challenges.
“Regional partnerships will help universities pool their limited resources … allowing them to set up joint laboratories, set common standards for research and development and most importantly, share knowledge and expertise.”
Prof Romain Murenzi, the Executive Director of the World Academy of Sciences, said Africa was not doing very well in the areas such as research. Therefore, partnership would serve to see quality higher institutions of learning. He added that exchanging knowledge across borders and cultures would speed up science advance.
African Union Commissioner of Human Resources, Science and Technology, Dr Martial De-Paul Ikounga said most African countries had similar tasks; to create and sustain relevant capacities for applied sciences, problem solving engineering and technology that could support national growth strategies and that the economic size of many countries suggested it would be best to employ a collaborative approach.
He noted that plans were at an advanced stage for the establishment of a Pan African university--a post graduate training and research network of university hub—that would have a strong emphasis on science and technology.