Science, technology and innovation as well as human resource development are critical in Africa, a continent, which has the biggest potential on earth, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at the Science and Technology in Society (STS) forum held in Yokohama, on Wednesday, as part of TICAD 7.
The Science and Technology in Society forum (STS forum) is one of the largest and most influential nonprofit organizations established in 2004 by Koji Omi, a former Japanese Minister of Finance. The Forum aims at strengthening cooperation between Japan and Africa in science, technology, and innovation.
In his address, Prime Minister Abe also noted the important role that science and technology played in the history of Japan’s modernization.
In attendance were Yasutoshi Nishimura, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank Group, Koji Omi, founder and chairman of the STS forum, and Asako Omi, member of Japan’s House of Representatives.
“South Africa endorses the focus on science, technology, and innovation as a priority theme for TICAD 7, given its great potential to accelerate African development through mutually beneficial partnerships with Japan, President Ramaphosa told participants.
“The STS forum has successfully changed global discourse on the role of science in development, we seek the forum’s support in changing the discourse on the role of Africa in science and innovation,” Ramaphosa concluded.
Adesina shared insights on the Bank’s work and support to train and develop the next generation of scientists. Since 2005 the Bank has provided financing of over $2 billion to support education, resulting in educational opportunities for 6 million students.
“We are proud of our investment in supporting the establishment of the Regional Center of Excellence in Kigali in conjunction with the Carnegie Mellon University, which is providing world-class Masters degree training in ICT. I am delighted that all the students that have graduated from the university have 100% employment, including setting up their businesses,” Adesina said in his keynote remarks.
The Bank has supported the establishment of ICT digital parks in Senegal and Cape Verde and is working with the Rockefeller Foundation, Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn and Safaricom to establish coding centers in several countries.
Adesina offered some key areas to prioritize in science and technology, including the establishment of regional centers of excellence; the urgent need to increase the share of GDP devoted to science and technology and close the gender gap in higher education.
“Let’s be visionary. Let’s be bold. Let’s support concrete initiatives to boost science, technology, and innovation in Africa,” he concluded.
Ministers for Science and Technology, Ambassadors, executives of international and national Agencies and business in Africa and Japan attended the forum which runs from 28-30 August in Yokohama, Japan.