•    Pan-African charity the Planet Earth Institute leads delegation of senior African figures and academics to New York

•    Public conference hosted by the Observer Office of the African Union will call for new targets regarding Africa’s science and technology agenda in the Sustainable Development Goals

•    Event follows other PEI campaigns in Africa and around the world in last year

Next week, the Planet Earth Institute (PEI), a charity with the mission of the ‘scientific independence of Africa’, will lead a senior delegation of African scientists and business figures to the United Nations in New York City. The delegation is part of an expanding campaign to prioritise science, technology and innovation in the Post 2015 agenda, the development framework that will follow the Millennium Development Goals once they expire next year.

In a public conference hosted by the Observer to the African Union in New York, Ambassador Antonio Tete, and featuring the United Nations Secretary General’s Post 2015 Adviser Amina J. Mohammed, the delegation will call for ambitious new targets on investment in science and technology. These targets include doubling student enrollment rates for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects in African universities and increasing the amount of PhD researchers, currently the lowest in the world, to the global average in the next ten years.

The conference will also specifically call on the private sector to increase their positive contribution to these efforts, building on a recent partnership signed between the PEI and the World Bank in Washington DC designed to support the involvement of African business. Specifically, the PEI is calling for business to increase collaboration with African universities and commit to investing in local scientific partnerships and research.

The delegation is led by the Board of Trustees at the Planet Earth Institute, including African businessman and philanthropist Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, former Cabinet Minister and British Ambassador to South Africa Rt Hon Lord Boateng and Sir Christopher Edwards, a prominent academic. Alongside the PEI team, the delegation will include a number of the PEI’s scientific and business partners, including leading academic Prof Phillip Griffiths, Chair of the Science Initiative Group, and Dr Joaquim Teixeira da Cunha, CEO of TAAG Angola Airlines. Alongside the conference, the PEI delegation will also join the UN’s High-Level Event “Contributions of North-South, South-South, Triangular Cooperation, and ICT for Development to the implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda”, led by Dr. John William Ashe, President of the UN General Assembly.

The conference and delegation return to New York following an initial event during the opening of the United Nations General Assembly last September, which included prominent figures such as the Chairperson of the African Union Her Excellency Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. This year, the PEI has already taken the campaign to Angola and Rwanda, and will host a conference in Senegal in early June.

Ahead of the delegation, Chairman of the PEI, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho said:

“Our campaign for Africa’s scientific independence is about setting the continent on the best possible path to sustainable development and growth. Only through science, technology and innovation – driven by investment higher education and advanced skills training – can Africa move to a knowledge producing continent and able to reach our true potential.

“No development agenda will be complete without addressing the critical issue such of Africa’s scientific deficit. The Post 2015 process must include measures to support training and resourcing local African researchers, and apply pressure for governments to invest in research and development, as well as incentivise and support business to play their part. As someone who has spent my life in the private sector in emerging African economies, I see everyday the ability enterprise has to make scientific debates real and tangible, through job creation and investment in new technologies that can improve the daily lives of our communities.

“Our conference and delegation to the United Nations next week is in recognition of the growing support we are receiving, working with partners across Africa and around the world. I urge all those interested in Africa’s scientific development and Post 2015 journey to join us.”


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