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The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) has released The Africa Capacity Report, a study of science, technology and innovation across the continent. The research found that Africa is short of more than four million engineers and around 1.6 million agricultural scientists and researchers, but that there are some areas of improvement.

African innovation lackingMorocco, Tanzania and Rwanda lead in Africa on science, technology and innovation capacity, according to the report, which evaluated 44 countries against quantitative and qualitative assessments of components including policy environment, implementation, development results at country level and capacity development outcomes. Morocco scored 71.6, Tanzania 68.8 and Rwanda 68.2 index values. South Africa came in at 27th, with a score of 51.1.

The report, themed “Building Capacity in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for Africa’s Transformation”, found that of the surveyed countries, 20.5% are in the high bracket and 4.5% in the low bracket, while 75% fall within the medium bracket.

In 2015, Africa had approximately 55 000 engineers but was short of the 4.3 million the continent needed. This situation has not changed, according to ACBF director for Knowledge and Learning, Dr Thomas Munthali. Of 44 African countries, 77% considered investment in STI capacity as a high or very high priority capacity need, and yet Africa’s STI capacity on the global scale is still low.

Only 12 African countries out of 141 that were surveyed were among the world’s 100 innovation achievers. Of the 31 sub-Saharan Africa countries surveyed, 30 were in the bottom half of the Networked Readiness Index rankings comprising 141 countries, while only five African universities were in the world’s top 500 universities.

The report found that the best performance was in gender equality and social inclusion, for which there were no countries in the low or very low brackets, and the indicators used found that Africa is making gradual process in developing its capacity for STI, despite the numerous challenges confronting it. However, the report identified brain drain or mass migration of African skilled scientists and other experts as one of the factors impeding the development of STI on the continent.

The study argues that capacity 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. Despite this, 91% of the 44 surveyed African countries consider training a high or very high priority, as are information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure (80%), patent rights and trademarks (80%), investment (75%), production/publication of scientific papers (72%), policy/strategy (70%), regulation/laws (65%).

Download the report: http://elibrary.acbfpact.org/acbf/collect/acbf/index/assoc/HASH417f.dir/doc.pdf

Image credit: Copyright: nezezon / 123RF Stock Photo

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