Business Reporter- Lovemore Lubinda

African countries are failing to make gains on technological and innovations due to industrial collapse and bad government of resources allocation.

According to the African Capacity Report 2017(ACR), launched in Harare yesterday, economic collapse and lack of resources allocation by governments in the region to science, technology and innovations (STI) has been cited as key factors affecting technological advancement in the continent.

The report shows that capacity in its various dimensions, though improving remains a problem for African economies generally, not just for STI.  Even though two-thirds of African countries have STI policies and strategies, their capacity to implement them remains very low.

“Most African countries have underdeveloped STI institutions and fail to effectively generate and deploy knowledge and technological innovations for socioeconomic growth,” says Thomas Munthali director of knowledge and learning the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF).

“This challenge largely reflects how STI institutions are not adequately staffed with skills and expertise, financial resources, infrastructural capabilities, and equipment,” adds Munthali.

According to the report only two countries in Africa, Kenya and South Africa which has a viable industrial base seems to be making progress towards technological and innovation driven  development.

The Report shows that it is possible to build STI institutions and use them for socioeconomic transformation, with a good number of African countries providing practical success stories based on strategies and initiatives that can easily be adapted to other countries.Notably, despite the growing emphasis on the importance of STI for Africa’s development,significant capacity bottlenecks still hinder countries from using STI in national development.Evidence suggests that African countries lack specific human and institutional capacities,critical technical skills, and resources to promote STI. To some extent, the capacity lag in STI is linked to the investment priorities of African countries, which have yet to convert their political commitments into practical programs for STI-based development.

The executive secretary of Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie says the current average of African spending on research and development (R&D) stands at about 0.5 percent—below the one percent of GDP pledged in 1980 and again in 2005.

Nnadozie says, “Unless countries build STI capacities to innovate and promote STI for development, Africa risks being left behind in the race toward inclusive globalization.”  

The Report recommends that African governments and the African Union must vigorously pursue new and innovative funding alliances involving bilateral and multilateral donors, governments, as well as non-state actors like private foundations and businesses.

A dedicated percentage of all development loans and grants from development partners should go into developing STI capacity programs. African governments must make serious commitments to develop human and institutional capacities by investing substantially in high-quality universities, state-of-threat equipped and maintained laboratories, ICT infrastructure, and research funding mechanisms.

The Report is a product of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), and it was produced and published with financial support from the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the African Development Bank (AfDB), African member states, and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).