Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Opoku-Mensah says Africa yet to explore S & T, tasks communicators

Ms Aida Opuku-Mensah

A three-day workshop, Monday commenced at the federal capital city, Abuja with a revelation that Africa is the only region yet to explore the great potentials of using science and technology as an engine of growth and development.

Director, Information Communication, Science and Technology Division (ISTD), Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mrs. Aida Opoku-Mensah, made this revelation at the three-day workshop on Making Science & Technology Information More Accessible for Africa’s Development, at ECOWAS building, Abuja.

Opoku-Mensah, who was represented by the Regional Advisor, ISTD at ECA, Mr. Thierry Amoussougbo, noted that media needs to do a buy-in into the scientific developments to make the information relevant and access to the people of the continent.

She noted that technology and innovation have served as the foundations of social and economic well-being since the beginning of human civilization, with the birth of modern science in Europe in the seventeenth century, science, technology and innovation (STI).

These, she said, have emerged as essential for creating wealth and improving the quality of life of people and for the advancement of human society.

According to her, the importance of science, technology, innovation and knowledge for development cannot be understated.

"There centrality for the nations socio-economic development is undeniable," she said, adding that African countries with STI capabilities have the capacity to develop and countries without STI capability do not.

"Indeed, Africa is the only region yet to fully exploit the great potentials of using science and technology as an engine of growth and development," she said.

The scale of challenge facing Africa, she said in the area of science and technology is huge with some related to low investment in research and development, inadequate regulatory regimes, poor infrastructural base and a lack of access to helpful scientific ideas.

She pointed out that an estimated that Africa has 83 engineers for every one million people, the developed world as 1000 engineers per one million people.

Equally speaking, the Director and country representative, UNESCO, Dr. Joseph Ngu, said science journalists should stimulate public interest and debate on areas where science and technology could impact on social and economic well-being of the society.

He also charged media practitioners to look beyond the superficial to report o the real impact science and technology has on the people, adding that Africa’s development has been on the front burners of international conferences for decades and many development approaches have been prescribed and administered by experts in various fields of human endeavour.

Participants, he said, seek to support the vision of scientifically led development in Africa, but this could be achieved by intervening in aspect of communication of science to the stakeholders and also the role of science and technology for attaining peace, poverty eradication, sustainable development and promoting a dialogue among different cultures and knowledge systems in Africa.

He pointed out that the systematic application of scientific and technological (S&T) knowledge has been a major factor in the rapid and sustainable economic development of many developed countries, adding that the central role of S & T has therefore been stressed in many international, regional and national sustainable development action plans, such as the Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan for Action (CPA), the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDgs) and the Nigeria’s National  Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS).

ITRealms Online recalls that the workshop was sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Department of Human Resource Science and Technology (HRST) of the African Union Commission, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in collaboration with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), will organize a science communication training workshop from 17-19 October 2011 in Abuja, Nigeria.

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