Building Capacity in Science and Engineering

Science policies are not enough. Science and engineering education at all levels and research capacity need to be built to allow countries to develop their own solutions to their specific problems and to play their part in the international scientific and technological arena.

Countries need to have the scientific, technological and engineering capacity to provide solutions to the sustainable development challenges they face in areas such as health, agriculture, communication, energy and industrial and infrastructure development. They must not only invest in good national science policies and governance systems but also in building capacity to carry out scientific research which means excellent science education at all levels, effective engineering education and quality universities and research centres. Scientific capacity and know-how whether resulting from local and national research or imported through technology transfer is critical in being able to develop and choose appropriate solutions to today’s multiple sustainable development challenges.

Capacity in engineering, using science and technology to develop useful products and services, is critical to finding appropriate solutions particularly in Africa, where there is an acute shortage of engineers. In particular, engineering curricula need to be more focused on finding sustainable solutions for example in the field of transport, and to attract young talent in particular young women into careers in engineering.

Discovering and developing sources of renewable energy is one of the keys to sustainable development. Building capacity to develop national renewable energy policies and know how in renewable energy technology is essential to create sustainable and thriving societies.

Creating scientific networks and facilitating access to scientific information are of great importance to building strong scientific research bases integrated into the international scientific communities. Here, the use of information and communication technologies is increasingly important.

The African Network of Scientific and Technological Institutions (ANSTI) in partnership with UNESCO established the Conference of Vice-Chancellors, Deans of Science, Engineering and Technology (COVIDSET) as a forum for University leaders responsible for Science and Engineering Education, the private sector and development partners in Africa and the Diaspora to meet and deliberate on strategic issues in Science and Engineering Education. Over the last ten years, this biannual event has provided a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences, sensitization of University Leaders on trends in science and engineering education in the region and globally as well as the identification of strategic issues for enhancing relevance of Science, Engineering, Technology and Innovation (SETI).

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