History in the Making: Validating the STISA Implementation Framework and deploying Science Agenda to end hunger in Africa

On the 7th September, 2015, history was once again recorded at the FARA Secretariat in Accra, Ghana, when H.E. Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga, the African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology; Hon. Mahama Ayariga, Ghana’s Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) and Professor Naana Opoku-Agyemang, Ghana’s Minister of Education graced the opening of a consultative workshop aimed to validate the Implementation Framework for the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA).

Hon. Mahama Ayariga, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Ghana giving his opening remark

Hon. Mahama Ayariga, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Ghana giving his opening remark

The workshop was attended by high profile delegates from the African Union Commission, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, Several Regional Economic Communities (ECOWAS, SADC, IGAD and COMESA), member states (Ghana, South Africa and Benin) the Regional Universities Forum (RUFORUM), the Association of African Universities, the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development CORAF/WECARD, UNESCO and the Diaspora.

STISA-2024 articulates the pathway for accelerating Africa’s transition to an innovation-led and knowledge-based economy through: (i) improvement of science, technology and innovation (STI) readiness in terms of infrastructure, professional and technical competence and entrepreneurial capacity, and (ii) implementation of specific policies and programmes in STI that address societal needs in a holistic and sustainable way.

H.E showing the STISA document

H.E showing the STISA document

To achieve the above outcomes, STISA-2024 will focus on six priority action areas: 1) eradication of hunger and achieving food security; 2) prevention and control of diseases; 3) communication through physical and non-physical media; 4) protection of our environment, including outer space; 5) living together in peace and harmony; and 6) creation of wealth for the people of Africa.

In his opening remarks the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation observed that Africa has demonstrated readiness to adopt technology and innovation. What is required is for Africa to become a global player in the creation of technology and innovation. This way Africa will develop the technology appropriate for its context and improve the balance of trade in technology products.

The Minister of Education, Prof. Nana Opoku-Agyemang highlighted the need for society to become more sensitized about science, noting that increased societal appreciation of how science improves lives and the environment will translate into increased political support and financing for STI.

H.E. Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga, handing over the STISA document to Hon. Mahama Ayariga.

H.E. Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga, handing over the STISA document to Hon. Mahama Ayariga.

Delegates at the workshop reviewed the draft implementation framework for STISA-2024 and recommended strategic actions to advance the operationalization of STISA-2014 at national, regional and continental levels.

Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, the Executive Director of FARA in his remarks said the continuation of the process of implementation strategy for the 10-year STISA marked another milestone in the architecture of African Science Fraternity. FARA is part of history in the making and STISA’s implementation is crucial to the realization of Agenda 2063. He further stressed that Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) is the main lever of development and transformation as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which will be launched very soon in New York emphasizes the role of STI. The STISA implementation charts the pathways that are crucial to responding to Africa’s continental agenda and the buy-in from stakeholders will help to develop the pillars for transformation; draw on synergies from national actors to deliver the priority areas, marshal the continent’s power and use it to respond to the AU’s vision of Agenda 2063. This is the first time FARA will be hosting AUC HRST and FARA has been leading the S3A, which is critical for advancing both the CAADP and STISA. Finally, Dr Akinbamijo analysed the need to look at the implementation modalities, governance and management structures which are needed for the take- off of STISA.

The Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A), as an example of a framework for implementing the priority action area 1 of STISA-2024—eradication of hunger and achieving food security was mainly discussed.   The S3A envisions that by 2030 Africa shall be food and nutrition secure, a global scientific player, and the world’s food-basket. This vision resonates with and contributes to the STISA-2024. The S3A has six strategic thrusts: 1) an enduring vision foreseeing Africa as major global player in science; 2) The African Union’s framework on Agriculture (i.e the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme—CAADP) as a short term priority; 3) research themes that connect institutions and policies with producers, consumers and entrepreneurs; 4) strengthening institutional systems of science for agriculture at national, regional and international levels; 5) sustainable financing of science and technology; 6) creating a favourable policy environment for the performance of science; and 7) establishing a special fund to promote African solidarity in science.

Participants at the Validation Workshop

Participants at the Validation Workshop

In order to build momentum towards eradicating hunger and achieving food security in Africa, FARA continues to put in place activities, processes and programmes towards the operationalisation of the S3A in particular, and the STISA Priority 1 in general.

In closing the workshop, H.E. Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga commended the government of Ghana for devoting deserving attention to STI. He pointed out that the workshop was an important milestone in the operationalization of STISA-2024 as it galvanized the key actors responsible for coordinating the implementation of this framework to agree on the principal modalities for realizing its expected outcomes.

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