"The pressure is on to catch up and keep pace so Africa is not left in the wake of technological progress," Rwandan President Paul Kagame told the recent Next Einstein Forum Global Gathering in Dakar, Senegal – reportedly the first global science forum on African soil.
To make that happen, Kagame said, requires a change in mindset. "We really cannot be satisfied with just ending extreme poverty. Our aim is shared and sustainable prosperity. And the key to that is science and innovation, bound by research."
Enabling students to flourish
There was agreement among the African leaders at the forum that their countries need to develop opportunities for young people to pursue scientific and technological challenges and to innovate.
But as Kagame noted, there are hurdles to overcome:
- Too few science and technology professionals
- Too few higher education students enrolled in science and engineering programs
- Too few women engaged in research, science or engineering
- Insufficient investment in research and development
Technology and skills are the lifeblood of economic growth and competitiveness, he told the forum. "We must continue to invest in the necessary education and infrastructure, including broadband," Kagame said.
Kigali Innovation City
He also called for closer collaboration between scientists and the private sector and mentioned a new Rwandan initiative, Kigali Innovation City, which is doing that by creating tech clusters for startups and established firms.
Kigali Innovation City will also have a research and education campus anchored by Carnegie Mellon University and the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences and an Innovation Fund supported by government and private sector capital.
"The purpose of initiatives like Kigali Innovation City," President Kagame said, "is to unlock value by better adapting technology to our economic and social context, as well as our current and future needs."
He added: "Our continent’s wealth tomorrow depends entirely on what we put in our children’s heads today. They will lighten the world’s burdens, not add to them."
This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.
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