The plan was described in a new report titled Africa’s critical technical skills, a key capacity dimension needed for the first ten years implementation of agenda 2063 developed by the Zimbabwe-headquartered African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF).
“Real African transformation will not happen unless countries give priority to STEM.”
Emmanuel Nnadozie, African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF)
According to the report, Africa needs 1.6 million agricultural scientists and has a gap of 2.8 million water and sanitation engineers. It adds that the continent accounts for less than 1.5 per cent of international scientific journals publications and percentage has been declining steeply in recent decades.
The report was presented at the third Pan-African Capacity Development Forum in Harare last month (3-5 May), which was organised by ACBF to mark its 25th Anniversary since its establishment.
About 900 people from 40 African countries including Botswana, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya attended the forum.
Emmanuel Nnadozie, the executive secretary of the ACBF tells SciDev.Net that the ACBF report shows that more than 80 per cent of students are enrolling in social sciences and humanities with a smaller number taking science and technology courses, It calls for increased efforts to direct more students towards the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
“Real African transformation will not happen unless countries give priority to STEM,” says Nnadozie. “Emphasis of STEM could resolve unemployment issues in Africa.”
The strategic plan focuses on building the critical skills, strengthening the learning institutions and building soft capacities in learning institutions.
This will be achieved through financing capacity development programmes, and connecting experiences and lessons on capacity development, the report adds.
Burton Mwamila, vice-chancellor of the Tanzania-based Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, says higher learning institutions in Africa should change their curriculums.
“To build human capital in Africa, universities should harmonise their curriculums to model science and innovation,” says Bernadin Senadza, a senior lecturer of economics at the University of Ghana. Njeri Wamae chairperson of Kenya’s National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation, says that platforms should be created for the youth to showcase their innovative skills and ensure that they are commercialised and used by the public.
According to Nnadozie, the forum’s participants such as government officials and development partners pledged to collaborate and implement ACBF’s strategic plan to help address the challenge of capacity and skill creation in Africa through investing in STEM and vocational skills.
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.