Africa’s Powerhouses rank low in commitment to Science and Technology

Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya have been ranked low among the 33 countries  least committed towards capacity building in Africa in the area of Science Technology and Innovation (STI), for the year 2016 in the latest Africa Capacity Report (ACR) 2017 entitled Building Capacity for Science, Technology and Innovation for Africa’s Transformation” .

The latest African Capacity Report,  by the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), surveyed, measured and empirically assessed 44 countries in the continent on capacity towards the development agenda in STI.

Launched  at the Nelson Mandela African Institute for Science and Technology (NMAIST), the report reveals that Morocco is leading the pack, with 71.6 score in the ACI that assessed 44 countries in the continent while the traditionally perceived powerhouses of Africa Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya are in 38th, 27th, and 17th respectively.

Tanzania, at the second slot, managed 68.8 ACI score ahead of Rwanda and Mauritius with 68.2 and 67.3 score, respectively.

Niger, with 57.4 score came eleventh while Liberia and Ethiopia followed with 57.1 and 56.7 score, respectively.

The  economic giant of East Africa, Kenya with 55.2 score on the ACI was ranked 17th behind Egypt (55.8), Lesotho (56.1) and Namibia with 56.2, but ahead of Ghana with 54.1 according to the ACBF Report.

Other countries with their scores in brackets are Cap Verde (62.6), Tunisia (62.6), Gambia (61.7), Mali (61.0), Malawi (60.7) and Burkina Faso (58.8), which made the top ten in the ranking.

Nigeria languished in 39th, with 43.4 score lower than Republic of Benin, in 23 with 52.6 score,  despite the Nigeria Government,  reiterated political commitments to put STI at the core of national development.

The 39 position means Nigeria dropped  seven places  from 2015 ranking while South Africa dropped by five  places.

Regardless of  the poor ranking Nigeria still led West Africa region on number of scientific publications. According to the report, Nigeria produced 1,961 scientific publications in 2014, the most in west Africa region, and the second in Africa, but still ranked poorly in capacity building and investment in science and technology.

It will be recalled that Last year, Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, had promised that  Nigerian astronaut will land in space on or before 2030.

The minister said the Federal Government was putting all the structures on ground to ensure that Nigerian astronauts landed in space on or before 2030.“The space programme is very important for a country like Nigeria.

Senator Robert Ajayi Boroffice announced also at a public lecture on space technology development that Nigeria will be able to build indigenous satellites in the country without foreign assistance by 2018.

However the ACI report says there is “lack in infrastructure investment” raising questions if the date will be attainable.

“A concomitant necessity is to invest in and build its human capacity and skills to ensure that the infrastructure and systems are fully exploited. Exploring innovative ways of developing and financing infrastructures is therefore an urgent necessity in Africa”

For African countries with the highest proportion of women researchers Namibia and South Africa, at 43.7 percent each topped comfortably with Nigeria in 18th position with 23.3 percent, although Africa’s top 5 female scientists for the year 2016 honoured by the African Union (AU), Prof. Olu-Owolabi Bamidele is from Nigeria for her research on the development of sustainable alternative materials for water treatment.

Future of STI in Africa

According to the report, indicators depicts that Africa is making gradual process in developing its capacity for STI, despite the numerous challenges confronting it.

Adding to that, African countries have a long way to go in improving the outcome of capacity development, given that capacity-needs assessments are not the priority for most of them.

Sadly, the report identified brain drain or mass migration of African skilled scientists and other experts as one of the factors impeding the development of STI in Africa.

The report pointed out that the status of Africa’s development, is closely linked to its capacity to deploy Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for more inclusive sustainable development and transformation while laying emphasis on the need to build STI capacity in Africa to achieve the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
ACBF was established in 1991 by African Governments and their Development Partners to help build sustainable human and institutional capacity for good governance and development management.

The ACBF has, over the past five years, published its Africa Capacity Reports, seeking to measure and examine the capacity of African countries to pursue their development agenda by focusing on key determinants and components of capacity for development.

ACBF plays a highly relevant role as it is well positioned to make an important difference through funding, interventions and technical assistance for capacity building projects and programmes to meet the needs of African member countries and non-state actors.

The ACR 2017 focuses on building capacity for STI in Africa. It also focuses on the capacity building imperatives for STI to accelerate Africa’s transformation.