Science, technology and innovation (STI) are identified as one of the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The degree to which STI fulfils this role in Africa depends on the ability of national institutions to undertake research that spurs scientific and technological innovations to address national and regional development challenges. However, success in research depends in part on research infrastructures, which includes the availability of and the state and condition of research facilities, tools, and services. An important complement to effective research infrastructures is the ready availability of trained and competent scholars and scientists willing to undertake research.
Research infrastructures come in many shapes and forms. Some are of an imposing size, such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA); others are relatively small, for example, some national laboratories. Research infrastructures also differ in terms ownership and provision. They may be provided by the public sector, private-for-profit sector and the non-profit sector (such as universities and philanthropies.) They may also differ with respect to financing. A research infrastructure may be provided by the public sector but financed using private resources. Some research infrastructures, especially those that address regional and/or global public goods, may be provided and financed jointly by a group of countries.
In Africa governments are the primary providers and financiers of research infrastructures. Private provision and financing is largely absent or inadequate due to the absence of large manufacturing firms that are engaged in research and development. Evidence suggests a glaring deficit in most countries. This deficit, if not addressed expeditiously, will hinder the ability of countries of the continent to deploy STI as a means of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, with an adverse effect on the rate of progress to achieve the targets in particular and the competitiveness of their economies in general. Cooperation among countries of the region and between the continent and the international community could help build research infrastructure capacity.
The preceding thus motivate the expert group meeting (EGM). The EGM and the background analytical report will explore the research infrastructures landscape in Africa and surface issues for the attention of policy makers and researchers. Much more precisely, the meeting will explore the potential role of international cooperation and collaboration attenuating the constraints of capacity to enable African countries to undertake the research critical for spurring innovations to achieve the 2030 Agenda, in addition to realizing the aspirations of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
The overall objective of the Expert Group Meeting is to identify strengths and weaknesses of the research infrastructure landscape in Africa and to explore the scope for collaboration and cooperation to bridge the research infrastructure deficit as a critical success factor if STI is to fulfil its role as a means of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. Specifically, the Expert Group Meeting will
- Give an overview of the research infrastructure landscape in Africa;
- Enable a better understanding of the research infrastructure challenges in Africa and the magnitude of the constraint that they present to enhancing the role of STI in achieving the 2030 Agenda;
- Explore the innovation and socioeconomic impacts of research infrastructure and their measurement in the context of Africa;
- Identify the possibilities of regional integration in building research infrastructures capacity in African countries;
- Explore the global dimensions of research infrastructure and the role that international cooperation can play in bridging Africa’s research infrastructure deficits;
- Provide policy recommendations for the leveraging of international cooperation and collaboration to develop Africa’s research infrastructure capacity in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
Building research infrastructure capacity in Africa to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development:
[Concept Note] [Programme of Work] [Information Note for Participants]
For further information, please contact:
Mr. Victor Konde
New Technologies and Innovation Section
Special Initiatives Division
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia