The African Development Bank (ADB) Group is organizing a workshop on a strategy on higher education, science and technology in Accra, Ghana from April 12-13, 2007. The two-day event seeks to update participants on the Bank Group’s renewed and committed interest in strengthening higher education, science, technology, research and innovation in Africa. The event, which will serve as a venue for the presentation of the Bank Group’s strategy on higher education, science and technology, will enable the institution to solicit views from experts and stakeholders in the sector. The workshop will also make it possible to identify and discuss synergies and complementarities with multilateral and bilateral donors, as well as other development partners.
Currently, Africa is confronted with a number of development challenges which require innovative policies and strategies to stabilize the macro-economic and sectoral environment. These new challenges include the growing importance of the knowledge society and the effective harnessing of science and technology dividends for economic growth and prosperity.
The stakeholders’ workshop will discuss the Bank’s strategy for the sector and provide feedback on its strategic orientation as a means to address these challenges, respond to the growing demand of higher education and link skills development to the productive sectors of the economy.
Higher education on the continent has, over the last two decades, suffered due to brain drain and budget cuts. Rebuilding higher education, science and technology capacity in Africa requires concerted efforts. The workshop therefore provides an opportunity for building partnerships between the Bank and regional development institutions such as the AU, NEPAD, regional economic communities, UNECA, as well as with other key partners, including the World Bank, UNESCO, FAO, AFD, CIDA, DFID, JICA and SIDA.
African countries face the best opportunity for growth in the past 30 years. Across countries, pessimism is being replaced with greater confidence, assertiveness and optimism. To sustain this growth, African countries need to harness science and technology, develop the human capital they require, integrate them into the global market, and prepare their economies for fierce competition in a world fueled by information and driven by knowledge.
In a context of declining knowledge infrastructure, brain drain, inadequate support for Research and Development (R&D), and limited direct links between science and industry, African countries stand a very little chance of making it in the new global economy. If these countries have to be competitive, they must invest in human capital development and technology, as many other regions of the world are currently doing.
Recognizing the critical role of knowledge, research and technology for the continent’s development, the Bank is working towards enhancing its knowledge, research and dissemination capacity and it is assuming a more prominent role in providing intellectual leadership on development issues in Africa. In this regard, the Office of the Chief Economist has been created with a view to scaling up knowledge management and providing overall guidance in the area of research, knowledge-sharing and dissemination. Last year, over 250 eminent researchers, development experts, economists, university professors and business executives met in Tunis for the first-ever AfDB Economic Conference to provide an opportunity for African economic development researchers and experts to share their findings with national policy-makers.
Over the years, the African Development Bank Group has been active in research and development on the continent. Through its policy of a knowledge-based institution, the Bank has embarked on an expanded program of creating this capacity at the Bank. Although the Bank’s core mandate is development financing, it has been recognized that its success in achieving its ultimate objective of poverty reduction and sustainable development in Africa depends critically on the depth and width of its knowledge of the development challenges facing the continent and individual African regional member countries (RMCs).