Africa must close its science and technology gap to take full advantage of the AfCFTA says Ameenah Gurib-Fakim at Afreximbank’s fifth annual Babacar Ndiaye Lecture

Africa must close its science and technology gap to take full advantage of the AfCFTA says Ameenah Gurib-Fakim at Afreximbank’s fifth annual Babacar Ndiaye Lecture

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print

CAIRO, Egypt, 25 October 2021-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- H.E. Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the former President of Mauritius and Laureate of the 2007 L’Oréal-UNESCO Prize for Women in Science, delivered a trenchant address at the African Export-Import Bank’s (Afreximbank) fifth annual Babacar Ndiaye Lecture on “the importance of science, technology and innovation in the transformation of African economies”. She called on African leaders to close the region’s science and technology gap to take full advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

H.E. Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim,
Former President of Mauritius and Laureate of the 2007 L’Oréal-UNESCO Prize for Women in Science

Professor Gurib-Fakim, delivered the keynote speech at the Bank’s annual flagship event and laid bare a raft of statistics that showed that Africa is falling well behind the rest of the world in science, technology, and innovation (STI). Only 0.1% of all patent applications are registered in Africa, compared to 65% in Asia and 25% in North America. Africa is also responsible for only 2% of the world’s research output and 1% of research spending. Furthermore, the laggards in Africa have 11 researchers per million people whilst the best performing countries in the world, such as South Korea and Denmark had between 7,000-8,000 scientists and researchers per million people.

“How can a continent with the largest share of arable land, a continent with the youngest population, a continent that has fueled all of the world’s industrial revolution, a continent that has helped drive the mobile phone industry, a continent that is at the cusp of supporting the world’s energy transition to greener technology with a large store of rare earth deposits accept such dismal statistics?” she asked. 

Watch the full replay of the event 

She blamed “chronic neglect”, the statistics demonstrating that the chronic deficit of researchers and scientists has undoubtedly contributed to the poverty trap that the continent finds itself in. “The deficit of investment in science and technology and absence of economic and scientific infrastructure has undermined the process of economic transformation both at the structural level and at the sectoral level. The consequences of that deficit have been significant and include continued reliance on the colonial model of resource extraction largely responsible for the debilitating poverty trap and aid dependence trap.”

The former President remarked that Africa’s failure to advance in science and technology has been compounded by the fragmentation of its markets. She praised the establishment of AfCFTA for overcoming this hurdle and creating the largest single market in the world by membership. However, the economic transformation anticipated by the free-trade market hinges on Africa “closing its scientific and technological gap with the rest of the world” and “sustainably producing the right set of skills to expand both extra and intra African trade.”

This will require collaboration and partnerships to create the right conditions to develop centres of excellence on the continent. Academia, governments and the private sector, she argued, would have to collaborate much more closely to ensure the funding is provided and that the conditions for science to thrive are put in place. In this regard, she praised the leadership role played by Afreximbank in the medical field where the Bank is supporting the growth of pharmaceutical industries and establishment of medical center of excellence.

Professor Gurib-Fakim reminded the audience that the increasing role of technology that was permeating all sectors and industries and driving growth was irreversible. She praised Africa’s successes in certain areas like mobile money, giving the example of M-Pesa which has been adopted in the rest of Africa after being created in Kenya. She equally praised Afreximbank’s Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) which is set to facilitate payments for cross-border trade in African currencies and assuage the liquidity constraints.

One of the major challenges, she said, is the continued brain drain of Africa’s brightest and best scientific minds. The former President encouraged the private and public sector to invest much more in education and research and development. “Every young African has the potential to be a great scientist, to innovate and become globally competitive,” she said.

Professor Benedict Oramah, the President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, introduced the lecture by observing that although Africa gained independence six decades ago it has nonetheless failed to achieve economic emancipation. Professor Oramah said that the failure of Africa to secure Covid-19-related equipment such as face masks and ventilators shows that the continent must start manufacturing its own technological goods.

The President of the Bank further pointed out that “while the AfCFTA was a necessary condition for the transformation of African economies, it was not a sufficient one, especially in a world where trade has been largely driven by manufactured goods with increasing technological content.” Among the set of constraints undermining the capacity of the AfCFTA to deliver on its full potential none was as critical as closing the region’s scientific and technological gap. He said: “The most competitive countries in the world are also the ones leading in ICT, innovation, scientific research and development. Africa cannot be kept at the back of the queue.” He also stressed the need to foster the collaboration between research and industry to further enhance the growth and development impact of scientific discovery across the region.

The President of the Bank remarked that Africa once boasted some of the most wealthy and industrious city-states and kingdoms – something that has been forgotten by the rest of the world. He quoted the Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral who in the 1500s landed on the coast of Tanzania and found a land full of rich merchants. He also referenced Lourenco Pinto, a Portuguese merchant, who noted that the capital city of the Kingdom of Benin, in modern day Nigeria, was larger than Lisbon and both industrious and wealthy.

Professor Sarah Anyang Agbor, Commissioner of Human Resources, Science and Technology at the African Union Commission (AUC), spoke about continental plans to boost science and technology in Africa. The AUC has set in place its Science, Technology, and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA-2024) that aims to promote the building and upgrading of research institutions, amongst other things. The plan fits within the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063, she said.

Dr Hippolyte Fofack, Afreximbank’s Chief Economist, wrapped up the event by echoing Professor Oramah’s statements that “Africa was the epicentre of and the birthplace of astronomy and mathematics”. He referenced the Dogon community in Mali who for centuries has been fully aware of an invisible star, Sirius B, long before it was discovered by Western astronomers in 1970. “Africa’s current scientific and technological gap with the rest of the world was a historical anomaly”, he added.

However, Dr Hippolyte Fofack welcomed ongoing efforts (though still marginal) by both public and private institutions to mainstream science and technology across the region. He added that Afreximbank has long championed technology and innovation as important drivers of Africa’s economic growth and structural transformation, convinced that setting Africa back on the path of scientific renaissance was a sine qua none condition for economic renaissance and structural transformation.

Lebo Mashile, a South African poet and writer, opened the lecture with a grand and evocative poem that touched on various themes of African history and the continent’s interaction with the rest of the world. Answering the fundamental question who are we? She said “being African is applied science of humanity.” There was also an uplifting musical performance by Cameroonian artiste, Joyce Babatunde.

The Babacar Ndiaye Lecture series, launched by Afreximbank five years ago, honours the founding role Dr Babacar Ndiaye played in the establishment of Afreximbank. As President of the African Development Bank from May 1985 to August 1995, he is credited with championing the establishment of several major continental institutions to drive the process of economic growth and structural transformation of African economies. 

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of AfreximBank.

About Afreximbank:

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution mandated to finance and promote intra-and extra-African trade. Afreximbank deploys innovative structures to deliver financing solutions that support the transformation of the structure of Africa’s trade, accelerating industrialization and intra-regional trade, thereby boosting economic expansion in Africa. The Bank has a rich history of intervening in support of African countries in times of crisis. Through the Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA) launched in April 2020, Afreximbank has disbursed more than US$10 billion since the outbreak of the pandemic to help member countries manage the adverse impact of financial, economic, and health shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A stalwart supporter of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Afreximbank has completed the development of a Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) that was adopted by the African Union (AU) as the payment and settlement platform to underpin the implementation of the AfCFTA. Afreximbank is working with the AU and the AfCFTA Secretariat to develop an Adjustment Facility to support countries in effectively participating in the AfCFTA. At the end of 2020, the Bank’s total assets and guarantees stood at US$21.5 billion, and its shareholder funds amounted to US$3.4 billion. Afreximbank disbursed more than US$42 billion between 2016 and 2020. The Bank has ratings assigned by GCR (international scale) (A-), Moody’s (Baa1) and Fitch (BBB-). The Bank is headquartered in Cairo, Egypt.

For more information, visit: www.afreximbank.com.
Media Contact: Amadou Labba Sall, asall@afreximbank.com

You might also enjoy

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

Become our partner

want more info, fill in this form.

Conférence de Presse en Ligne


Les frontières terrestres ne doivent pas constituer des obstacles à la dissémination de votre message. Grâce à notre service de conférence de presse en ligne, nous vous offrons l’opportunité de vous rapprocher des médias africains, chaque fois que vous en aurez besoin.

Nos services comprennent:

Digital Communications


Today, social networks constitute an organization’s first point of contact with a user and a potential customer. At first glance, you need to convince of the relevance and quality of your content to stimulate and motivate the user to go further. We create consistently inspiring online strategy to meet business objectives, engage stakeholders and enhance our client brand’s reputation internally and externally.

 

Communication​ digitale


Les réseaux sociaux représentent aujourd’hui le premier point de contact d’une organisation avec un utilisateur et un client potentiel. Au premier coup d’œil, vous devez le convaincre de la pertinence et de la qualité de votre contenu pour l’inciter à aller plus loin. Nous créons pour vous une stratégie de communication précise et adaptée sur les réseaux sociaux pour atteindre les objectifs commerciaux, impliquer les parties prenantes et améliorer la réputation de votre marque en interne et en externe.

Promotion​ d’événements


Le succès d’un événement réside en moitié dans sa promotion. Peu importe la beauté de l’événement, la qualité des orateurs et de l’ordre du jour, si personne ne rapporte ou ne parle de votre événement, vos efforts seront vains. Nous vous aidons à façonner votre récit et à créer un engouement autour de votre événement. De l’annonce de l’événement à la tenue de celui-ci, nous accompagnons votre effort de planification et le reflétons sur toutes les plateformes médiatiques.​

Formation​ Médiatique


Nous fournissons à vos porte-paroles les outils nécessaires pour présenter vos principaux messages et répondre avec confiance et cohérence aux questions. Notre formation est organisée soit à distance ou en présentiel, avec des études de cas réels et des répétitions. Nos clients repartent avec le sentiment d’être à l’aise devant les journalistes et d’agir en tant qu’ambassadeurs de la marque.

Veille​ Médiatique


Nous mesurons votre portée en relations publiques et rendons compte des informations de votre industrie et des activités de vos  concurrents en surveillant la majorité des canaux de diffusion dans toute l’Afrique. Une veille médiatique complète et opportune est essentielle pour s’assurer que vous ne manquez aucune référence à votre marque, que vous êtes constamment informé de ce qui se passe dans votre industrie et que vous êtes prêt à saisir les opportunités et à réduire les risques en temps opportun.

Relations​ Média


Peu importe le lieu où ils se trouvent, nous sommes une source d‘informations fiables pour les journalistes qui écrivent sur l’Afrique. Nous nous connaissons mutuellement et ils nous font confiance, car nous leur fournissons un contenu crédible qui les aide dans leurs tâches. Nous nous entretenons quotidiennement avec des journalistes aux quatre coins du continent, ce qui fait de nous l’un des organismes les plus efficaces pour mener des campagnes de relations avec les médias.

Stratégie et développement de contenu


Nous créons des stratégies de communication intelligentes, bien documentées et spécialisées destinées à vous aider à construire un récit fort qui engagera votre audience. Nous travaillons en synergie avec vous afin de rédiger des communiqués de presse et des articles d’opinions qui alimentent le récit de votre entreprise. Notre équipe a une expérience approfondie dans la création de récits et le développement de contenu multimédia.

DIFFUSION DE COMMUNIQUES​ DE PRESSE​


C’est le service phare d’AMA. Nous avons mis en place des canaux de diffusion des communiqués de presse auprès des journalistes des 54 États africains ainsi qu’auprès des journalistes américains et européens couvrant les sujets relatifs aux marchés émergents.​

​Nos services comprennent:​

Event Promotion


Half of the success of an event lays in its promotion. Doesn’t matter how beautiful the event is, how wonderful the speakers and the agenda are, if no one reports or talks about your event, your efforts are gone. We help you shape the narrative and create a drumbeat around your event. From the announce all the way to the outcome of the event, we accompany your planning effort and echo it through all media platforms

Media Training


We provide your spokespeople with the tools to present your key messages and answer questions with confidence and coherence. Our training is organised either remotely or face-to- face, with real case studies and rehearsals. Our clients leave feeling comfortable being in front of reporters and acting as brand ambassadors.

Media Monitoring


We measure and report on
your PR reach, industry news, and competitive activity by monitoring most channels in North, West, Central, East and Southern Africa. Comprehensive and timely media monitoring is critical to ensuring that you don’t miss any reporting of your brand,
you’re constantly informed on what’s going on around your business, and you’re ready to capitalise on opportunities and mitigate
risks in a timely fashion..

Media Relations


We have become an authoritative source of news for reporters writing about Africa, wherever they are. We know them, they know us, and they trust us for providing them with timely and accurate content that helps them do their job. We speak to reporters on a daily basis in all corners of the continent and this makes us one of the most effective agencies in running media relations campaigns.

Strategy & Content Development


We create smart and localised communications strategies to help build a strong narrative that will engage your audiences. We partner with you to create press releases and thought leadership pieces that sustain a drumbeat for your company’s narrative. Our team have deep experience in shaping narratives and developing media content.

PRESS RELEASE WIRE DISTRIBUTION

This is AMA’s flagship service. We have set up channels of distribution towards the journalists of the 54 African states, as well as to American journalists and European journalists covering emerging markets issues.
Our service includes:

Editorial advice

Localised editorial piece when needed

Distribution to the major print, broadcast and online publications along with industry-specific publications

Follow-up calls to secure interview request

Guaranteed distribution to Africa.com

Distribution to Bloomberg, LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters

Social Media Reach: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram

Full online monitoring and print monitoring when available. Includesreadership stats and Advertising Value Equivalent

Translation in French, Arabic and Portuguese available