Wed. May 29th, 2024

Ethiopia’s commitment to improving its agricultural sector and ensuring food security using technologies is a good example to be emulated by other countries in Africa, Innovation and Technology Minister Belete Molla remarked.

The Minister made the remark at the opening of the two-day Sixth African Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Forum underway at UNECA headquarter in Addis Ababa under the theme, “Effective delivery of innovative science and technology solutions to reinforce the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063 and eradicate poverty in Africa.”

The forum is a pre-event being held ahead of the Tenth African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development.

Speaking during the opening, Innovation and Technology Minister Belete Molla said the forum is critical platform to explore how science, technology, and innovation can be harnessed to achieve the goals of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with a specific focus on eradicating poverty in Africa.

Africa is at a crossroads, the minister said, adding that despite significant progress, “we are still off track on achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1: No Poverty.”

The number of people living in extreme poverty in Africa continues to rise, threatening to undermine peace, security, and sustainable development across the continent.

Science, technology, and innovation are not silver bullets, but they are powerful tools that can help us overcome these challenges, he stressed.

“By fostering innovation in key sectors like agriculture, clean energy, and healthcare, we can create jobs, improve livelihoods, and lift millions out of poverty.”

However, strong foundation is needed for science, technology, and innovation to truly flourish in Africa.

Robust investment and effective collaboration in science, technology, and innovation are key to eradicating poverty and building sustainable development in Africa, Belete said.

“We need a strong foundation. We must increase investment in research institutions and universities to develop homegrown solutions to Africa’s challenges. We need to Empower women and youth by recognizing that Women and young people are crucial drivers of innovation. We must create an environment that empowers them to participate fully in science, technology, and entrepreneurship. STI cannot be flourishing without strong institutions.”

Effective and accountable institutions are also essential for setting the right policies and fostering a culture of innovation.

“We cannot achieve these goals alone. Collaboration is key. We need to work together –governments, businesses, academia, civil society, and the international community – to share knowledge, resources, and expertise,” Belete said.

According to him, fostering innovation in key sectors like agriculture, clean energy, and healthcare, can create jobs, improve livelihoods, and lift millions out of poverty in Africa.

Ethiopia’s commitment to improving its agricultural sector and ensuring food security is a good example to be emulated by other countries in Africa, he pointed out.

“Ethiopia has developed a food system transformation roadmap and launched several initiatives focused on boosting agricultural productivity, achieving self-sufficiency, and combating climate change. These initiatives include improving access to fertilizers, seeds, and technologies for farmers.”

Ethiopia has not only created a roadmap for food system transformation, but actively implemented numerous initiatives. These initiatives prioritize boosting agricultural resilience, achieving food self-sufficiency, and combating climate change, he added.

The country recently amended its Science and Technology policy, placing a strong emphasis on fostering innovation and harnessing the potential of emerging technologies and enacted a national Digital Transformation strategy named Digital Ethiopia 2025.

“We’ve recently evaluated the strategy’s impact, and while we’re encouraged by the progress, it’s also identified areas for improvement.

These insights will be instrumental in shaping our future endeavors. Building a robust innovation ecosystem is paramount to our success. We’ve implemented several initiatives to empower startups and strengthen research and development, including in the field of Artificial Intelligence.”

The Ethiopian Artificial Intelligence Institute plays a central role in harnessing AI for national development and fostering research and development in this critical field.

Furthermore, Ethiopia is eager to collaborate with fellow African nations on a shared vision for scientific and technological advancement, he stated.

“By working together, we can leverage innovation to unlock Africa’s full potential and build a brighter future, one powered by both digital transformation and green energy solutions,” Belete added.

UNECA Program Support Deputy Executive Secretary, Antonio Pedro on his part said Africa must invest in human capital development, research and development, and in learning how to produce, sell and use emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and genomics that are transforming every aspect of life.

“Technology should advance the wellbeing of the millions of households, farmers, fishermen, and many others that still use basic tools to lift themselves out of extreme poverty,” Pedro said.

Science and technology can play crucial role in increasing the efficiency of service delivery to the poor, monitoring living conditions, predicting impending crises in crowded or remote areas and informing decision-making during crises, he pointed out.

This forum is specifically designed to foster collaboration, the diffusion of technology and innovation, and the scaling up of policy and operational efforts to accelerate the contribution of science, technology and innovation to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, according to him.

The STI forum has over the years, grown to become a premier platform for addressing the opportunities and challenges that science, technology and innovation offer for fostering strategic partnerships and implementation of scalable and innovative solutions.

He noted that in 2022, the Forum launched the Alliance of Entrepreneurial Universities in Africa.

The Alliance has since stimulated Universities and their 19 million students in Africa to nurture start-ups aimed at creating 100 million jobs and generate 200 billion USD in revenue in ten years (that is by 2033).

“Africa must invest in human capital development, research and development, in learning how to produce, sell and use emerging technologies.”

Similarly, in 2023, the continental problem-solving and innovation platform called Origin was launched in Niamey, Niger, as the first Origin Research and Innovation Hub for East Africa at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology in Kenya. It has registered hundreds of problem solvers, has its own physical space, staff and partners from the private and public sectors.

“The ECA’s coding camps for girls and women are an example of how we can empower young women to become the next tech entrepreneurs and innovators. We have trained two thousand young girls and women so far. However, to trigger transformational change, we must replicate these examples again and again across the continent,” Pedro said.

By Joy

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