Research and development on the continent is set to receive a boost early next year when the STISA (Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa) policy making framework takes off. This is the results of 18 months of work by African policy makers and researchers.
Aimed at promoting science and technology in Africa, STISA will expand the scope of R&D on the continent to include capacity building; creation of regional networks of African researchers; and connecting science, society, entrepreneurship and policy.
Broadband internet, mobile adoption and the establishment of research hubs has catalyzed the growth of Africa’s IT sector into a significant part of the economy. Kenya is benefitting in a large part due to this boost in ICT capacity, already ICT contributes 2% of the country’s annual GDP.
The opening of IBM’s first research lab in Africa has also favoured Kenya being the country where mobile communication has significantly impacted socio-economic gains. IBM research lab highlights the opportunities presented by African economies, boosting foreign investors confidence in African economies.
Persistent decline in public funding on health research is however a global concern as this will make it harder to develop new drugs especially for AIDS, TB and Malaria. Africa may take a hard fall from this trend as most of the continent’s health researchers depend on the US NIH (National Institutes on Health) who have cut their R&D fund to $1.5 billion. To improve health research capacity, it is critical that African governments support researchers in this shortfall of international funding.