Africa needs young minds to solve its problems and the time is now. This was the message at the 10th African Young Graduates and Scholars Conference in Limpopo. Through events like this youth can be motivated and encouraged to come up with ideas that will change the world as we know it. The NEPAD-Southern Africa Network for Biosciences is participating at the African Young Graduates and Scholars conference from 14-17 March 2016 at the University of Limpopo under the theme “The Africa We Want”. The conference is focussing on culture with its many aspects and dimensions, and the role that culture plays in sustainable developments, peace and good governance, as well as integration on the continent.
Dr Ereck Chakauya, SANBio Network Manager presented a paper entitled: Global and Continental perspectives: Innovation and entrepreneurship in implementing STISA-2024 towards achieving Agenda 2063” at a plenary session with the theme “Innovation and Entrepreneurship - Towards Agenda 2063”. The purpose of the plenary seminar was to equip young graduates and Scholars on how they can translate their research to innovative ideas that can be commercialised and turned into businesses with the support from government institutions.
The discussion was focused on the implementation of one of the pillars of the science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA 2024): Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
The topics discussed during the plenary session included: a policy perspective on innovation for inclusive development; translating innovative ideas to business opportunities (entrepreneurship); academic perspective on innovation & entrepreneurship, and; opportunities and challenges for African young innovators/entrepreneurs. The key institutions present included the Human Science Research Council, Department of Science and Technology (DST), Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), African World Heritage Fund, Department of Arts and Culture Limpopo, and the University of Limpopo.
“The conference attracted young minds from across the continent that delivered thoughtful and provocative presentations. I was most impressed with the extent of the rigorous discussions that took place at the conference. I think the workshop delivered by Professor Catherine Campbell, a distinguished ASSAf visiting scholar on the topic “Getting your research published: advice for young academics” was of great help to the young researchers and is something that should be included as part of the programme at conferences involving young researchers,” said Dr Siyavuya Bulani, Senior Liaison Officer at the Academy of Science of South Africa.
Mr Phunwa Mambanga, a PhD student at the University of Venda, also remarked on the value of the conference for students: “The conference provided me with a different understanding of innovation and that innovation does not only involve technologies: you can actually be innovative through indigenous knowledge and culture. I learned a lot from the presentation on the scholarships and funding opportunities. The conference also provided me with the opportunity to interact with other young graduates and scholars from the African continent.”
NEPAD-SANBio supports innovation through funding innovative ideas to develop them into products or technologies. One of the projects previously funded by NEPAD-SANBio under the BioFISA I Programme was a tick management project in Zambia in which an extract from an indigenous plant was developed for use as a sprayable liquid to repel ticks on livestock, leading to a significant decrease in tick-borne diseases among the treated livestock.