The role that Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) plays in sustainable economic growth cannot be over emphasised. Economies around the world are fast becoming knowledged based.
The trends prevailing around the world have awakened the need for the African continent to put in place competitive research infrastructures,supportive technical and professional competencies, flourishing innovation and entrepreneurship and a conducive policy environment for STI.
This has triggered the African leadership through African union(AU) Agenda 2063 Science, Technology and Innovation strategy for Africa (STISA) and predecessor frameworks acknowledge that science,technology and innovation(ST&I) are critical drivers of economic development. To build capacity amongst institutions to drive the science , technology and innovation agenda on the continent the Science Granting Councils Initiative has provided an opportunity to understand and strengthen Africa’s innovation eco – systems by enhancing the capacities of Science Granting Councils(SGCs) to effectively manage research, design and monitor research programmes and to formulate and implement policies based on the use of robust science,technology and innovation indicators, support knowledge exchange within STI system, establish partnerships with actors in a science and technology system.
It has been pointed that Councils that are effectively managed and connected with multiple actors, at scale, will strengthen national science systems to deliver on Africa’s transformative agenda.
It is against this back ground that New Partnership for Africa's Development NEPAD organised a Training workshop under theme 2 on developing R&D and innovation Performance Assessment – Data Analysis and Reporting on selected STI indicators at the Umodzi Park, in Malawi, Lilongwe from 3rd April – 8th April, 2017. Among the objective of the workshop was to understand possible ways of assessing the performance of R&D and innovation eco-systems, collect and store disaggregated data sets on R&D and innovation relevant to national STI policies and strategies, describe and process datasets on R&D and innovation at the institutional level and develop data analysis products and the use of the tools for increased R&D investment by national governments.
The workshop drew participants from SGC’s from Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and the Host Malawi.
In opening the workshop, (NEPAD) Head of Research and Statistics Dr Tichaona Mangwende said the world was moving from commodity based economies to knowledge based he economies.
He said there was need to place value on R&D data.
“There is need to put in place feedback systems from the knowledge we produce,” he said.
And Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (NEPAD SANBio) Manager Dr Ereck Chakauya said for Africa to attain sustainable development there was need to place Research and development at the heart.
“Iam so passionate about this continent, no one from outside can solve our problems,”he said.
Meanwhile, the Director of the National Commission of Science and Technology of Malawi Mr Anthony Phiri said SGC’s shared common values.
He said there was need to document reliable facts in the science sector.
“We need right skills, right policies to move to a knowledge based economies,”he said.
And participants talked to said the workshop was an eye opener in improving and collecting data.
Courage Mpofu from the Research Council of Zimbabwe (RCZ) said it was important to plan for R&D surveys.
“It is important to use appropriate methodologies for carrying out the surveys” he said.
The workshop came to an end on 7th April,2017.
By Lenganji Sikapizye and Mupande Nambala, National Science and Technology Council, Zambia