AN ANALYTICAL NOTE ON “Higher Education Science, Technology and Innovation, Research and Development (R&D) and Entrepreneurship in Africa” IN AFRICA
Project Duration: August 2020 – February 2021
Grantor: AfDB (Africa Development Bank)
Contacts: Dr. Nicholas Ozor, Executive Director, ATPS
Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Project Director: Dr. Nicholas Ozor
Project Value: USD 83,000
With huge unemployment figures in Africa (World Bank, 2020); mismatch between skills supply and demand; a disconnect between higher education (HE) and industry; a gap between HE and technical, entrepreneurial, vocational education and training (TEVET) institutions; low enrolment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with further bias against women and girls; and the limited Africa’s contribution to scientific publications occasioned by the decline in STEM research, Africa faces huge challenges in meeting the sustainable development goals, the Agenda 2063 and the different national development Plans and Visions of its Regional Member Countries (RMCs). This situation is exacerbated by the current ravaging impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore calls for urgent actions by relevant stakeholders to reverse this trend towards reskilling Africa’s workforce with demand-driven science and technological skills in line with the fourth industrial revolution, strengthening the relevance of research and development (R&D) to industry, and building resilient enterprises that can weather economic shocks and pivot businesses to models that meet the changing demand of the current market. The African Development Bank (AfDB) as one of the key stakeholders in this sector has taken the bull by the horns to champion the sustenance of technological innovation, entrepreneurship development, and scientific research and development for economic transformation in Africa. This is evident in their many supports to the RMCs but most specifically in the Bank’s Ten-Year Strategy 2013-2022 (TYS), the Bank’s High 5 priorities and particularly the Bank’s Human Capital Strategy for Africa (HCS) 2014-2018 and the Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy (JfYA) 2016-2025. In its further commitment to support the RMCs even the more, the Bank is preparing an analytical note on “Skills development for employability, productivity and sustainable livelihoods” and has developed some Terms of Reference (TOR) against key priority areas and cross-cutting issues to that effect.
KEY PRIORITY AREAS
1. Training Infrastructure
This priority area aims to provide a deep dive on the current state, gaps and emerging infrastructure needs for higher education, science, technology and innovation (HESTI) and R&D for socioeconomic transformation in Africa. The ‘new normal’ brought about by factors such as the COVID-19 makes the Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure inevitable for the realization of the objectives of this priority as the pandemic rapidly transforms various sectors including transitioning learning to virtual platforms, disrupting supply chains and catalyzing digital commerce across the continent. Other support infrastructure such as power, equipment/ facilities, laboratories, etc. are considered.
Training infrastructure is an important aspect towards upscaling HESTI, R&D and entrepreneurship development in Africa. The lack of modern training infrastructure in most African higher education and research institutions have denied Africans the chance to grow its economic prospects and opportunities thereby depriving the youth of career opportunities in the job market. Many African countries have relapsed in STEM development compared with other developed countries. There are significant shortages of human resources in the STEM fields especially women coupled with the lack of access to electricity, poor ICT and internet access, and other modern equipment needed to support HESTI, R&D and entrepreneurship development in Africa. Investing in training infrastructure would lead to production of a generation of young professionals who can take charge in developing their countries. As such, there is need to build and rehabilitate existing training infrastructure and most importantly by linking HESTI, R&D and entrepreneurship development to the productive sector.
This section seeks to understand what the current state of ICT is in Africa, what can be done to accelerate growth of STEM, entrepreneurship and R&D. At the end of the analyses, it will provide insight on areas that the Bank will provide unique assistance for maximum impact.
This priority area aims to provide evidence and insights on the current state of financing, gaps and innovative mechanism to finance HESTI and R&D in Africa. The financing gaps witnessed in Africa’s HESTI and R&D cause a major challenge in meeting its education and skill needs. With low investments in higher education and research and development witnessed in most African countries since 1980’s Lagos Plan of Action, outputs from HESTI and R&D have not met the desired expectations in terms of skills, productivity, employment and sustainable livelihoods. In many African countries, more than half of the investments in education are internationally funded as such, puts the continent strategically in a disadvantaged position as we cannot dictate our own contextualized paths with donor funds. There is therefore need for institutions and countries to look for new approaches to improve funding in research and innovation (Ozor, 2015). Several financing models have been crafted to spur growth of technological innovations that are needed to contribute and support HESTI and R&D in creating employability, skills and productivity in the labour market.
This section of the report will provide evidence and insights on the current state of financing, gaps and innovative mechanism to finance HESTI, R&D and Entrepreneurship development in Africa in meeting the desired objectives.
This priority area seeks to assess the policy environment, curriculum, management and administration, and underlying social issues (such as inclusion, gender) in the HESTI and R&D arena. The slogan that ‘policy/politics is superior to science’ underscores the need to provide an enabling ecosystem for HESTI and R&D activities to thrive in Africa. However poor governance structures and ineffective policies currently in place in most African countries do not support HESTI, R&D and entrepreneurship development in producing competent skilled human capital for employment, increased productivity and sustainable livelihoods. The education systems and workforce development strategies and policies in place are in need of reforms (AFDB, 2019). Issues to do with gender balance, curriculum management and administration need to be streamlined in a way that support skills development.
- A Draft Inception report with the Annotated Table of Content.
- A Draft report focusing on the three thematic areas.
- A Revised draft 1 report incorporating the revised inputs on the three thematic areas; and preliminary inputs on the six cross-cutting areas.
- A Revised draft 2 report incorporating updated inputs on the six cross-cutting areas
- A Final report