12.06.2014 - Natural Sciences Sector

Showcasing innovation in Africa

"Africa's Minds - Build a Better Future"

UNESCO and the Islamic Development Bank have joined forces with SciDev.Net and its team of freelance African journalists to showcase 11 often untold stories of how local communities across Africa are reaping the rewards of innovation.

These stories are compiled in a booklet entitled Africa’s Minds Build a Better Future: African Science, Technology and Innovation Success Stories. Stories include the development of solar villages in West Africa, a software innovation hub in Kenya, a digitized database in South Africa for mapping malaria and the training of women farmers in Senegal in how to grow new crop varieties and augment their income through the small-scale processing of value-added products such as sweet potato puree, biscuits, cakes or jams.

These accounts illustrate some of the ways in which men and women in Africa are applying science, technology and innovation (STI) in fields as diverse as agriculture, disease control and environmental sustainability to improve livelihoods, propel local industries and educate for the future. The 11 stories showcased cover just a few of the many innovative and creative projects being implemented across Africa.

Today, it is widely recognized that STI are essential for sustainable economic development. Evidence shows that investing in scientific knowledge and new forms of innovation are powerful contributors to inclusive growth.

In highlighting these success stories, the aim is to raise awareness, share experiences and inspire others to undertake similar initiatives in their own countries. By showcasing concrete examples of the socio-economic benefits that can be reaped from investing in STI, the aim is also to encourage policy- and decision-makers to implement strong policies and strategies to support and foster such initiatives.

The booklet also profiles two initiatives in support of education and training; the first provides postgraduate students across Africa with scholarships and research fellowships, the second proposes a teaching programme for 11−19 year old girls in Cameroon blending science education with career development.

The booklet was launched on 28 May 2014 during the annual celebration of Africa Week at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. This year’s theme was Education and Science for Agriculture in Africa. The booklet was presented jointly by Mr Sidi Mohamed Ould Taleb, Director of the Islamic Development Bank’s Regional Office in Dakar, Mr Nick Perkins, Director of SciDev.Net, and Ms Wendy Watson-Wright, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences.

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For details, please contact: Sarah Colautti or Natalia Tolochko




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