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What will correct Africa’s socio-economic fails?

Disclaimer:  The information and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the ATPS Network.

Posted on 18th February, 2013by Ms. Sarah Wakasa

By Sarah Wakasa

Numerous challenges stand in the way of Africa’s ambition, one might lax, stuck amidst this tangles of economic and social fails that have crippled progress.

Why do we fail and wander aimlessly unable to feed our children and yet countries with a fraction of the resources we boast of manage to become first class nations amidst the worst of economic crises?

More than 218 million people live in extreme poverty. Poverty has made the continent writhe in other opportunistic fiends like climate change yet its economies rely on climate-dependent sectors such as water-fed agriculture, and its coping capacities are weak.

What’s worse – when breaks like HIV/AIDS, corruption, conflict and wars keep stagnating this fight against poverty.

So has money set us apart? Yes the lack of it at least – Undoubtedly, poverty has put an unbearable strain on Africa.

While noting Africa’s maladies, it would be dispiriting not to mention the improvement in telecom innovation that has broadly improved the quality of life across sub-Saharan Africa.

There has been an increase in African countries that are increasingly embracing technology as a driver of development, e.g. Kenya’s Vision 2030 and Rwanda’s rapid ICT growth.  Despite sub-Saharan Africa’s impressive economic performance over the past decade, which has resulted in marginal poverty reduction, her way to economic liberation is still beset with thorny issues that need a massive and quick clean up!

Africa is still aloof, missing out on technologies and innovations chances that have seen other regions massively reaping gains.

And in the face of this, we still do not see much allegiance by parliamentarians in investing in research institutions and efforts towards innovation and entrepreneurship.

The latest world University ranking demonstrates this as only three universities in Africa, all in South Africa, made it to the top 400 in the 2012/2013 Reuters/Times Higher Education.

Countries are making a kill from technology and innovation, yet what we see in our backyards are continuous ranting about political supremacy rather than issue-based politics, a distraction to the public and an amusement backed by our media.

Africa, a great consumer of technological knowledge from other region’s innovations still falters behind, lacking aggressive policies and commitment to build its own capacities.

“Without aggressive policies and commitment to build endogenous capacities on the continent, Africa will remain a knowledge consumer not a knowledge producer in the third industrial revolution,” said Prof. Kevin Urama, of the Executive Director of the Africa Technology Policy Studies (ATPS).

In order to change this, we need a serious reform of our priorities to those that would fast pace our economic issues. What better way than promoting policies that would boost business science, research, agricultural productivity, for example?

Our governments need to encourage its in-house initiatives aiming at transforming Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) knowledge structures. Initiatives like tech hubs need to be supported by governments and the private-sector. We need to buzz up these young African talents and the works to increase the competitive impact they aim.

We need to need to tap into the private sector; continual handouts will not liberate us. We need to elect leaders that will cultivate an entrepreneur-friendly environment. An atmosphere where entrepreneurs can foster their small and medium–size sized companies, where easier access to capital needs are made possible.

The irony is that most of our nations have now clocked the 50 year mark of independence, yet we are trapped in the over-reliance of hand-outs. Crippled with widespread corruption that is costly and a derailment to development and augmented socio-economic disparities.

Our problems may seem complex but one sure thing is that innovation and entrepreneurship are comebacks to sustainably set us on a competitive globally edge.

(The information and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the ATPS Network).


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