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Remarks by Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group at TICAD7 - Science and Technology in Society (STS) Forum Side Event - Tokyo, 28 August, 2019


Thank you Mr. Omi for organizing this Science and Technology Society Forum. Thanks to your work and the Forum, a lot has been and continues to be achieved.

Today, the fourth industrial revolution is being powered by science and technologies, rapid bursts of innovation and science and ICT driven innovations. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, quantum data analytics, automation, robotics, nanotechnology and biotechnology are expanding the innovation space at a pace never seen before. Training and capacities in science, technologies, engineering and mathematics are more critical today than ever before. They will shape the nature of work and job opportunities.

Africa faces an uphill task in effectively participating and leading on the 4th industrial revolution. Enrolment in higher education, of about 14 million, accounts for only 6.4% of global higher education. Of this, less than 30% are in sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Second, the share of GDP being spent on research and development is small in Africa, at only 0.4% in sub-Saharan Africa compared to the global average of 1.7%.

The African Development Bank is strongly supporting Africa to train and develop the next generation of scientists. Since 2005 we have provided financing of over $2 billion to support education, which have provided education opportunities for 6 million students.

We are proud of our investment in supporting the establishment of the Regional Center of Excellence in Kigali in conjunction with the Carnegie Mellon University, which is providing world class Masters degree training in ICT. I am delighted that all the students that have graduated from the university have 100% employment, including setting up their own businesses. The Bank has supported the establishment of ICT digital parks in Senegal and Cape Verde. We are working with the Rockefeller Foundation, Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn and Safaricom to establish coding centers in several countries.

Government of Japan for its strategic partnership with the African Development Bank in promoting science and technology in Africa. Thanks to your support, the Bank supported the establishment of the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology in Egypt; the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology; and the African University of Science and Technology in Nigeria.

In partnership with Japan, the Education for Sustainable Development in Africa (ESDA) has supported inter-university partnerships between eight African and four Japanese universities.

The Japan Africa Dream Scholarship Program between the African Development Bank and Japan has supported African students to study in diverse fields of specialization, including energy, agriculture, health, environmental sciences and engineering - while promoting university-industry partnerships.

We greatly appreciate the support of the Government of Japan for the Science, Technology and Innovation Forum.

As we look toward the future, I would like to suggest 7 key areas to prioritize on Africa’s drive in science and technology.

Africa must establish more universities of science and technologies, especially regional centers of excellence and ensure they are very well funded.

There’s an urgent need to increase the share of GDP that’s devoted to science and technology to help Africa boost its competitiveness.

We must close the gender gap in higher education and strongly support more female students to go into science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Equally important is the need to provide strong support to the Africa Institute of Mathematical Sciences – a world-class network of universities and African global scholars that will be critical for driving the 4th industrial revolution.

Expand digital infrastructure across the continent to drive down the cost of broadband, crucial for quantum data analytics.

We must strategically support universities to fast-track the development of technology and innovation entrepreneurship platforms.

And finally we must work innovatively and collaboratively to establish and scale up private equity funds that will boost innovations across Africa.

Let’s be visionary. Let’s be bold. Let’s support concrete initiatives to boost science, technology and innovation in Africa.

Thanks very much.

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