Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa


Africa is a continent striving for scientific independence, with many initiatives being put in place to achieve this important goal. Improving science, technology and innovation (STI) is vital if the continent is to effectively address the current and future problems typical of many countries in Africa, but there are a range of factors that need to be tackled before this happens.

Investing in Africa

One factor that will help towards the goal of STI independence is greater help with investment, which is why the announcement from Microsoft that they have launched an investment initiative will be welcome news. The global company has announced the 4Afrika IP Hub, an initiative that will help Nairobi inventors secure their intellectual property. Alvaro Sobrinho, chair of the Planet Earth Institute, has listed the current investment hotspots in Africa with Tanzania and Angola appearing to be the most lucrative locations.

Changing the Focus of Invention using Education

While greater investment in inventions is vital to Africa’s future, there needs to be the right inventions to invest in. Education can play a big part in changing Africa’s economy from one that targets invention and production to one that focuses on needs-based inventions. It is the belief of many that thorough education this change can be made and will address the current and future concerns with agriculture.

Improving the Workforce Market

The problem of education in Africa is typified by the fact that fewer than 10% of Africa’s population are signed up to education at the tertiary level. As well as encouraging needs-based inventions, greater education will help meet the demands required from companies who are looking for skilled workers. Despite increases in the number of private institutions in Africa, many are stagnating according to Dr Sobrinho in a Q&A with, leading to fewer marketable skills among the workforce of Africa.

The Right Skills for a Growing Market

Despite the many problems with education in Africa, a university in Ghana is leading the way in improving the quality of education. Ashesi University has become increasingly focussed on the skills that matter in science, technology and innovation. This has arisen from collaboration with companies desperate for the relevant skills, and more and more institutions are following by example, says Dr Aldo Stroebel of the National Research Foundation. Currently, many countries in Africa are falling short of the 1% GDP target on research and development, but collaborations such as those at Ashesi University are changing that.

Altering Focus through Policy

One of the most promising changes of all in Africa is the move to reboot policies with a focus on science, technology and innovation. At high levels of power, strategies such as STISA-2024 have been planned for moving funds into research, skills and entrepreneurship, paving the way for progress in Africa. Despite promise for the future, Alvaro Sobrinho stressed in a 2013 article that complacency must not creep in and undo all the good work.