Africa produces just 1.1% of global scientific knowledge. There are 79 scientists per million Africans.
According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS) estimate for 2019 Africa’s funding for Research and Development is 0.4% of the continents GDP which is far below the global average of 1.7% and the lowest in the world.
In 2006, the African Union Executive Council established a target for all member states to invest 1% of GDP in Research and Development. Data from the UIS shows that only South Africa, Kenya, and Senegal are close to meeting that target with about 0.8% of GDP dedicated to Research and Development.
Africa will continue to be held back in development if we do not immediately invest in Research and Development.
Science has the solution for most Africa challenges but we are refusing to invest in it.
The African economies are some of the world’s fastest-growing averaging 5% annually. For this growth to continue, local solutions and innovations need to be applied to all sectors, especially healthcare and education.
Countries that have invested in education, science, and technology have managed to break the cycle of poverty. UK spends 1.7% of GDP on Scientific Research and Development while America spends 3%.
China spends 2.2% of its GDP on Research and Development. It is obvious that the developed countries spend even more than 1% of their GDP on Research and Development.
Why wouldn’t we look up to the Western world for Vaccines anytime there is a disease outbreak?
It is time for African leaders to see the need to invest in Education, Science, and Technology.
We have to call on the African Union to ensure all its member states invest 1% of the GDP in Research and Development.
This is the time for Africa to invest greatly in Science and Technology.
This is the time for African Leaders to equip Science Resource Centers in their various Countries.
This is the time for African Leaders to fund initiatives that promotes youth in science.
If Africa wants to be the industrial hub in the world where we can make use of our raw materials and feed the world then we need science.
We can’t build industries on weak scientific foundations.
Science, Technology, Engineering Mathematics (STEM) is the only way to bridge the poverty gap.
This is also the best time to call of the great African Scientists working outside Africa to return to the continent to help build a great Africa for the future generations.
In December 2019, Quartz Africa published the challenges that African Medical Scientists are going through to get funding to back their research and also talks about how many African Scientists have been forced to leave their home countries to work abroad due to lack of funding.
Quartz Africa stated that “Even when these African Scientists go overseas for training, they are often reluctant to return home upon completion after working in well equipped Ultra Modern Laboratories and in conducive environments”.
If African Leaders are sincerely committed to making Africa a better place for the future generation, then this is the time to Invest in Education, Science, and Technology.
Mr. Bernard Annan
Director, All Sciences Olympiad Foundation