History tells us that no region of the world could achieve economic and social progress without the knowledge and application of science and technology. All modern progress is built on a solid foundation of scientific knowledge. But Africa, which is in dire need of scientific knowledge, currently ranks last in this regard.
A report published in 2004 that ranked the world’s universities did not list a single African institution in the top 200. All regions of the world were represented in the overall ranking, with the exception of Sub-Saharan Africa. With 83 engineers and scientists per million population, 423 in North Africa, 783 in Asia (excluding Japan), 514 in all developing countries, and 1,102 in all industrialized countries. I’m here.
Over the years, engineering and science have driven industrial development, job creation and improved living conditions around the world.
A study conducted in 1994 found that MIT engineers founded more than 4,000 companies with total sales of $232 billion. This is more than the combined GDP (at current prices in 2002) of all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) except South Africa.
Similarly, most of the economic development that India has achieved over the last few decades is largely due to the Indian Institute of Technology (JIT).
But sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s poorest region, does not have a reputation for excellence in science. But the good news is that all this is about to change with the launch of a new initiative. It is called the Nelson Mandela Institute for Knowledge Building and Technological Advancement in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is an African initiative named after President Mandela’s visionary leadership, educational excellence and commitment to Africa’s development. This initiative envisages transforming the industrial and economic landscape of sub-Saharan Africa and strengthening its socio-cultural foundations.
It is rooted in strong public-private and industry-academic-government partnerships for long-term sustainability. It is a groundbreaking initiative to promote economic growth and diversification, added value and job creation by promoting excellence in science, engineering and their applications, and has been for many years the rest of the world. It is a development strategy that has been used successfully.
Main Pillars of Initiatives
Indeed, the success of this initiative is essential to transforming sub-Saharan Africa’s agriculture-based economy.
Key pillars of this institution include the African Institute of Science and Technology and the Sub-Saharan Africa Learning Network (SSALN). The African Institute of Science and Technology (AIST) is a world-class institution based on highly successful models of scientific and engineering excellence institutions around the world. It offers undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate level education and offers excellent facilities for research.
Using a decentralized IIT model, the institute will establish four regional AISTs (Central Africa, Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, and Western Africa), with the first AIST expected to be operational by 2007.
After that, we will gradually introduce the establishment of other AISTs and implement them gradually for endogenous growth. AIST will produce 5,000 excellent scientists and engineers every year in a critical mass if it operates at full capacity. These engineers’ mission is to create and adapt knowledge to transform local communities, improve human conditions, and accelerate the development of SSA.
This mission is underpinned by strong research and industry partnerships and enhanced by the Technology Parks established around AIST to sow the seeds of innovation. More than the African version of IIT and MIT, AIST will be a catalyst for Africa’s transformation and integration into the global economy.
SSALN is a platform for promoting knowledge creation and dissemination across Africa. The flow of knowledge will be facilitated by an “information-driven ring road” connecting African higher education institutions.
This collaboration will promote collaboration between AIST and national academic institutions, expand learning opportunities, and contribute to the improvement of the national education system. This is enhanced by collaborative research and industry outreach.
Development feasibility of the initiative
The potential impact of this initiative is expected to be significant. Science and engineering provide the foundation for sustainable development. Through the introduction of irrigation systems, they played a key role in the ‘green revolution’ achieved by successful countries in other parts of the world. As a result, the famine and famine episodes that continue to plague Africa are a legacy of the past in those regions.
Achieving a green revolution is the first step in the process of economic diversification and job creation. In that regard, some aspects of the development potential of this initiative are:
- Economic diversification and job creation enhanced by strong links with industry for technology transfer and the creation of a technology park around the AIST Regional Research Institute.
- Less exposure to growth volatility and terms of trade and exogenous shocks.
- Closing the technical, scientific and knowledge gaps between SSA and the rest of the world.
- Reduced inequalities in access to education as a result of the implementation of a “need-blind” admissions policy and the transparency of the selection process.
- Mitigation of brain drain. Partly as a result of the creation of a superior academic infrastructure and the prospect of advanced research continuing to produce a critical mass of scientists;
- Overall improvement of the quality of science education. in part as a result of establishing benchmarks for cross-country comparison and performance assessment;
- Reducing the cost of education and promoting research in a cost-effective manner as a result of the economies of scale offered by the continental approach. This allows pooling of resources, limits costs for any given country, and increases profits for all.
- Strengthening the vision of the African Union and its economic development platform, the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad) and the ‘African Renaissance’.
The initiative is based on an independent, not-for-profit model and supports the promotion of excellence through competitive processes, transparency and accountability.
In this regard, the institution has established a Permanent Fund and relies on the generosity and contributions of public and private sources, corporate and individual patrons around the world.
The endowment model is successfully used by leading academic institutions around the world, especially in the United States, to mitigate inherent risks and ensure long-term sustainability of the initiative.
Over the next few years, the Institute will seek to build a fund that will generate sufficient revenue to cover the annual operating and maintenance costs of the four AISTs.
Many to establish the “AIST Friends Consortium” in countries in Africa and around the world to bring together business leaders, scientists and policy makers to mobilize continued support for the growth of the Fund. efforts are already underway.
Establishing a fund is key to the success and implementation of this initiative. Implementation is supported by the African Academy of Sciences, IIT Bombay, the AIST Independent Scientific Advisory Board, and the African Science Council.
The African Science Commission is an important component of the institution. In order to enhance technology transfer through collaborative research, a dual representative (he has two experts per field, one based in Africa and his other in the Diaspora). I have. Representatives of this committee are developing a curriculum for AIST’s academic departments as part of their contribution to ongoing implementation efforts, and have already started working on it.
Important steps over the next few months include cementing the initiative across the continent to strengthen its ownership, mobilizing resources to begin implementation, and establishing the first AIST academic infrastructure.
It is a major African initiative, and its success is critical to transforming sub-Saharan Africa’s agriculture-based economies and eradicating poverty.
The support provided by Africans from the continent and the Diaspora in the coming months will be critical to its takeoff and success. This will strengthen ownership of the initiative and ultimately draw further support from multinationals and our African friends around the world.
Development has always been about pride and commitment to sharing visions and ideals. The Nelson Mandela Institute is already a landmark initiative and is considered the pride of Africa. The support and commitment of all African sons and daughters must be swiftly and successfully implemented to lay the foundations for a new Africa on the path to sustainable growth and irreversible transformation.
This article was originally published in Africa Business Magazine in November 2005.