Sustainable Development in Africa & Satellites - page 122

120 - Sustainable Development in Africa & Satellites
n the UNDP Technology Achievement Index, whichmeasures
technology creation, technology diffusion and human skills
that goes with harnessing technology, Africa was rated
poorly. Of five categories of countries, no African country is in
the top two. Four are in the middle category, 5 in the bottom
two tiers, described as «marginalized» technologically,
and all the rest are in the bottom category, dubbed «below
marginalized». This is an indication that Africa must improve
its competitiveness not just by relying on its low labour costs,
but also by improving innovation, research and development.
For the African continent, harnessing science and technology is
the key to facilitating the transition to sustainable development.
During 2005, NEPAD and the African Union Commission, in
cooperation with UNESCO, laid out a Consolidated Plan of
Action for Science and Technology Development in Africa.
It articulates a commitment to collective actions to develop
and use science and technology for economic and social
transformation and for the integration of Africa into the global
economy. It is based on three interconnected pillars: capacity
building, knowledge production and technological innovation.
Emphasis is placed on developing an African system of
research and technological innovation through regional
networks of centres of excellence for R&D and capacity
building programmes. In this endeavour, enhancing capability
to generate research while innovation is essential and building
networks for sharing knowledge and best practices is critical.
African countries were active participants at the World Summit
on Information Society (WSIS), which aimed to close the global
digital divide. They have taken on board the key policy thrust
of the WSIS which aims to: build an inclusive Information
Society; put the potential of knowledge and Information
& Communication Technologies (ICTs) at the service of
development; promote use of information and knowledge
for the achievement of internationally agreed development
goals, including those contained in the Millennium
Declaration; and address new challenges of the Information
Society, at the national, regional and international levels.
Enhancing Africa’s technological capacity
Brazzaville, the Republic of the Congo. Experts from national institutions
assess the concept of horizontal model proposed by the SAGA-EO project. They
share Earth observation data and knowledge to develop value-added information
to help better manage a food crisis.
© J.G. Planès/Thales Alenia Space
Africa and Europe are working hand in hand to develop Space technology
in the areas of Telecommunication, Internet access, Earth observation and
Environment monitoring.
Thales Alenia Space. © Serge Henri
In translating all these objectives into actionable programmes,
African countries will have to implement several critical
interventions: the promotion of ICTs for development;
developing an information and communication infrastructure,
the promotion of access to information and knowledge; capacity
building; the promotion of cultural, identity, linguistic diversity
and local content; and promoting the ethical dimensions of the
information society, among others.
Policy Issues and Capacity Building
Strengthening of science and technology policy-making and
development of relevant institutions is, clearly, a necessary
condition for technology to play its important role in sustainable
development of the African continent. Development institutions
are weak in many African countries, particularly the smaller
ones. Capacity building, especially human resources capacity
and the development of an appropriate knowledge base is
equally essential to sustainable development in the continent.
In terms of space science and technology, a handful of African
countries ratified the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, the 1968 Rescue
Agreement and the 1972 Liability Convention. Only Nigeria and
South Africa have a National Space Policy and there exist only
five space Agencies in the continent located in Nigeria, South
Africa, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt.
As new discoveries in the field of science and technology,
including space exploration will drive agriculture, medicine,
income growth, and new inventions in the very near future in
an unimaginable way, the African continent cannot afford to
be left behind.
However, a formidable leadership in the continent is required
to truly mobilize science and technology for sustainable
development with all key stakeholders involvement in both
policy formulation and implementation. This will ensure that
policies are tailored primarily to meeting the specific needs of
end-users and clients.
Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas
1...,112,113,114,115,116,117,118,119,120,121 123,124,125,126,127,128,129,130
Powered by FlippingBook