Nigerian Academy of Science celebrates STI




The Nigerian Academy of Science had her 40th Anniversary celebration in collaboration with the 13th Annual Meeting of African Science Academies (AMASA-13)  recently, in Abuja. The focus was on Science, Technology and Innovation  in the area of education and manpower development in Africa. BINTA SHAMA reports

The meeting had scientists within Nigeria and all over Africa to discuss the way forward via Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) to mark this momentous milestone. The activities showcased the Academy’s progresses, partnerships, and plans for the future.

At the conference, scientists present deliberated on education and manpower development issues affecting Science Technology Innovation (STI) development in Africa. They all had one contribution or the other to add and push the sector forward.

 

Importance of STI

They discussed how the need for science education and manpower development can accelerate Africa’s growth to meet globally acceptable standards, and initiate a long term engagement plan for African Science Academies, in their respective governments, and policy makers to work towards a new era of STI development for a more sustainable and self reliant Africa.

 

Goals

President of the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS), Prof. MostoOnuoha , said there was urgent need to tackle challenges of science education and manpower development in Africa, adding that Africa could do more in funding research activities that could promote  STI.

“The conference goals are to convene a regional meeting of African Science Academies  to discuss solutions to STI education and man power development and how to accelerate Africa’s growth to meet globally acceptable standard” he stressed.

He added saying this was to initiate a long term engagement plan for African Science Academies and respective government/ policy makers to work together towards a new era of STI development for more sustainable and self reliant Africa.

 

Research and partnership

The President of  American Academy of Arts and Science (AAAS), Prof. Jonathan  Fanton, urged African countries to embark on long term goals for  government research investment.

He advice such long term research investment goals would add value to Science, Technology and innovation (STI) policy implementation in the continent.

He also suggested the strengthening of partnership among government, Universities and industries. And also advising the continent to maximise the benefits of government funded research.

 

Challenges in STI

The Chairman Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Prof. Robert Boroffice, said that it was an appropriate timing for this to converge with an agenda to dialogue and reach resolution on repositioning of science, technology and innovation through education and manpower development for sustainable growth in Africa.

He shared  the various challenges faced in the continent causing the crippleness of STI and also its solutions. Stressing that Africa must confront the tough but surmountable challenges bedeviling STI in the continent if not, we should not expect rapid and sustainable development in Africa.

“It is worrisome to note that Africa accounts for about 5 percent of global gross domestic product because the continent is responsible for only 1.3 percent of global expenditure on Research and Development (UNESCO 2015). And so also it should be noted that only about 0.45 percent of Africa’s GDP is expended on (R&D). This shows clearly some of the reasons why Africa is faced with many developmental challenges”.

He said the lack of quality education and availability of manpower are some other significant challenges facing the STI sector.

 

Addressing challenges

He urged that the repositioning of STI  will surely enhance the actualization of sustainable development in Africa. Sustainable economic development and opportunities, sustainable environmental considerations, sustainable social services of various types and promoting quality education for all are achievable if STISA-2024 is religiously implemented.

The Minister, Science and Technology, DrOgbonnayaOnu says that this year’s theme is a realistic recognition of the immense contributions of Science and Technology as tool for economic development not only in Africa but all over the world at large.

He says STI has continued to propel the global economic landscape into changes which includes creating considerable new opportunities by conquering hitherto unimagined frontiers in all fields of discipline.

“Nigeria will need to be accorded the heighest priority to pursue basic developmental benchmarking templates like the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs), if given its natural endowments and human capital”.

 

Research institutes

Also contributing, Director Academic Planning of African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Prof. Peter Onwualu, maintained that research ought to be used to drive development in Africa.

“African countries need to create conducive environment to drive STI .Research work in very fundamental and inevitable in this area. We can never stop learning. Scientists need to speak language that politicians understand to secure their political Will towards industrialization”.

 

Govt’s support for STI so far

According to Prof. Robert Boroffice, he said in recent times, Nigeria has made two significant steps towards addressing the challenges by adopting STI as the driving and centrifugal force of the Economic Recovery & Growth Plan (2017-2020).

The Minister of Science and Technology serving as a member of Nigeria’s economic team.

“I will therefore implore African countries to consider and adopt this arrangement as it will place STI as top priority agenda of African countries”.

On the other hand, in the Nigerian Senate, the bill on National Research and Innovation Fund has been passed.

“When the Bill becomes Law, it will encourage the private sector to make financial contributions towards education, training and research as it relates to STI which will also enhance the capacity to offer scholarships to students studying STI at all levels”.

In support of the Government’s on STI, DrOnu added that the government has approved the establishment of the National Research and Innovation Council (NRIF), to be funded by 1% GDP and other sources.

“These efforts by our government is to change the economic paradigm from commodity marketing to knowledged-based economy”

 

Role of the media

The Media was not left out in the promotion of STI, it  was concluded that responsibilities is on scientists to push the idea via various mediums to help promote and support STI in layman’s term.

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