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Statement by Mr. Antonio Pedro at the Africa Regional Science, Technology and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Development

21 April, 2024
Statement by Mr. Antonio Pedro at the Africa Regional Science, Technology and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Development

Africa Regional Science, Technology and

Innovation Forum for Sustainable Development


Statement by

Mr. Antonio Pedro

The Deputy Executive Secretary



21 April 2024

Banquet Hall, UNCC



Your excellency, the Minister of Technology and Innovation, Ethiopia, Dr. Belete Molla,

Your Excellency, The Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Mohamed Belhocine,

Your Excellency, Ambassador Javier Niño Pérez, Delegation of the European Union to the African Union and ECA,

Your Excellency, the Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Technological Innovation, Republic of Congo, Hon. Prof. Delphine Edith EMMANUEL ADOUKI,

Your Excellency, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ghana, Hon. Ophelia Mensah Hayford (TBC),

Your Excellency, the Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Sierra Leone. Hon. Dr Haja Ramatulai Wurie (TBC),

Your Excellency, the Minister of Investment, Entrepreneurship and Industry, Seychelles, Devika Sumitra Kathrina Vidot (TBC),

Your Excellency, Deputy Minister for Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, Zimbabwe, Hon. Simelisizwe Sibanda,

The Assistant Director General- Natural Science, Lidia Brito,

All the Ministers and Deputy Ministers, Senior Government Officials, my colleagues from the UN System and Leaders of Public and Private entities here and those joining us online,

On behalf of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), I am delighted to welcome you to the Sixth Africa Regional Science, Technology and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Development and to the UN Conference Centre.

The facilities here at the Conference Centre are undergoing a major physical and technological upgrade to meet the demands of the 21 Century. Nonetheless, I hope you will find them adequate to meet the needs of this meeting.

About the STI Forum for Sustainable Development

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development established the Science, Technology, and Innovation Forum for the SDGs (or STI Forum) as a multi-Stakeholder platform for:

  • fostering collaboration in science, technology and innovation,

  • forging strategic partnerships among stakeholders from the academia, industry, government, and civil society,

  • sharing and exchanging good practices among member States and their entities,

  • developing and encouraging implantation of scalable initiatives and solutions; and

  • building consensus on difficult issues, advocating for Africa and facilitating rapid diffusion of ideas beyond those we reach through most of our daily work.

Living up to its aims

Your Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This Forum has grown to become a premier platform for addressing the opportunities and challenges that science, technology and innovation offer for fostering strategic partnerships and implementation of scalable and innovative solutions.

For instance, in 2022, the Forum launched the Alliance of Entrepreneurial Universities in Africa. Although it is still in its infancy, the Alliance has stimulated Universities and their 19 million students in Africa to nurture million start-ups to create a 100 million jobs and generate $200 billion in revenue in ten years (that is by 2033).

Two months ago, at the Africa Business Forum, ECA and Google signed an MOU that will support this goal and efforts aimed at eradicating poverty and reducing unemployment on the continent.

Similarly, the continental problem-solving and innovation platform called Origin, which we launched in February 2023 during the ARFSD held in Niamey, Niger, is already taking shape. The first Origin Research and Innovation Hub for East Africa at Dedan University of Technology (DeKUT) in Kenya has registered hundreds of problem solvers, has its own physical space, staff and partners from the private and public sectors.

Among others, Origin is developing an Open Foundry for manufacturing customized chips for research and industrial applications in fields such as artificial intelligence, smart mobility, energy, health and agriculture, to name a few.

We are grateful to Kenya and DeKUT for piloting the ECA-Origin model as well as to partners such as MIT (USA) and Semiconductor Technologies Limited (Kenya) for their support.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You may also be pleased to learn that the co-organizers of this STI Forum – which include the Department of Science and Innovation of South Africa, UNESCO, African Materials Research Society, UNIDO, UN Technology Bank for the LDCs, and IAEA – have continued to meet every two weeks to monitor progress, collaborate in the delivery of initiatives and offering support to advance the outcomes of the Forums.

As ECA, we are grateful to all our partners for their continued support, dedication, and willingness to work together.

Moreover, in May 2023, following ARFSD 9 in Niger, ECA and DESA, with support of our partners, launched the Coalition on STI for Africa’s Development ( in New York. The Coalition advocates for STI within the UN System and beyond; mobilizes resources for STI development in Africa; and connect Africa’s STI entities to partners within and beyond, especially Africa’s large diaspora.

The founding members include South Africa (Chair), Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana and Morocco. The founding members are inviting all African Permanent Missions to the UN in New York to formally join as members.

The Coalition is a powerful tool to advocate for and safeguard Africa’s STI interests in major undertakings of the UN and international community.

The Theme

“Effective delivery of innovative science and technology solutions to reinforce the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, of the African Union and eradicate poverty in Africa”.

Today, we have all the tools we need to eradicate poverty everywhere. As former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan underlined, in this age of unprecedented wealth and technical prowess, we have the power to save humanity from this shameful scourge [i.e. poverty].

Globally, the number of people living in poverty declined from 1.9 billion to 689 million between 1990 and 2018 while that of Africa increased from 283 million to 433 million during the same time. Put differently, Africa’s share of global poor people increased from 15% in 1990 to 63% in 2018 and may reach 90% by 2030.

Similarly, Africa is unlikely to meet the Malabo Declaration to end all forms of hunger by 2025. About 1 billion people in Africa cannot afford a healthy diet; 20% of the population is food insecure; and 30% of children are stunted.

We must redress these trends tapping on the power of technology!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Africa must invest in human capital development, research and development (R&D), and in learning how to produce, sell and use emerging technologies. Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and genomics are transforming every aspect of life.

A student or researcher in Africa is using Chat GPT, PaLM AI and similar products in learning and research; others are using GeekMeets AI to summarise online classes and meetings, getting daily updates on developments in their areas of interest thanks to AI. We wish that all people in Africa have access to such tools.

Our aspirations are also to see our students and researchers become developers of the next generation of processors, storage disks and algorithms that are needed to fully unleash the full potential of artificial intelligence, like their peers are doing.

Technology should advance the wellbeing of the millions of households, farmers, fishermen, and many others that still use basic tools to lift themselves out of extreme poverty. As such, this Forum should not just provide a list of what technologies can do but how they can uplift the living standards of our people.

It is against this goal that during the third STI Forum, ECA and Rwanda launched the STEM-Africa Centre to build a solid foundation in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and social science from primary to tertiary education.

We are also working with Congo and Togo to build centres of excellence in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, respectively. 

As ECA, it is our hope that all countries on the continent embrace and drive scientific, technological and industrial development across society, especially among youths and women.

Our coding camps for girls and women are a good example of how we can empower young women to become the next tech entrepreneurs and innovators. We have trained a couple of thousand young girls and women so far. However, to trigger transformational change, we must replicate these examples again and again across the continent.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To close, I would like to share a couple of questions that I hope this Forum can help to answer:

a)   Which approaches, mechanisms and strategies are likely to be effective in enabling science, technology and innovation to accelerate development in Africa?

b)  Which technological options are likely to have a greater impact and how can they be scaled up; and

c)   What are the potential barriers to scaling up innovative science, technology and innovation solutions in Africa and ways to overcome them?

I have no doubt that this able assembly of leaders and experts as well as youths from various walks of life will provide innovative solutions and alternative approaches to scaleup actions and enable STI to empower people and to build an inclusive and equal society.

I wish you all successful deliberations and look forward to the outcomes of the STI Forum.

I thank you for your attention!