Building a Resilient Innovative Africa in a COVID-19 world

Perhaps one the most important areas where R&D plays a role is in education innovation, which goes well beyond any education model Africa has known in the past. The educational establishment is, of course, a historically important player in research and development. The experts we spoke to explain, however, that this is lacking in Africa, not only in state investment but within academia. They all agree that there is a serious need to build environments that specifically focus on research, innovation, risk-taking, critical thinking and problem solving because these are the core skills that African youth need to flourish in today’s ever-changing global economy. AfricanDevelopment Institute’s Urama states that education policy around primary, secondary and tertiary levels also has a role to play in driving R&D on the continent. Policy should be such that African education systems empower Africans to create and innovate, and not just serve. Building economic resilience througheducation innovation&policy

“There is aneed tomoveaway fromthe focus ondegrees andcertificates, which look good on paper but do not support the technical, industry-oriented education needed to lift many Africans out of poverty. Furthermore, African languages, references, and case studies should be valued more and utilized to remove barriers to education and training in business development, which is a role for R&D. Thiswill go towardsmakingAfricamoreaspirational and instilling a culture of Africans valuing more of what is intrinsically African, including language, culture, currency, and rolemodels. The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) has enormous transformativepotential in driving the creation of homegrown innovations. COVID-19 has further shown where these opportunities lie but the continent needs to step up R&D to harness this potential. We are seeing many universities on the continent developing incubators, which are ideal for researching social innovation opportunities, but this must be done on amuch larger scale.”

Kevin Chika Urama Senior Director, African Development Institute, African Development Bank

Joseph Nsengimana, Director for the Mastercard Foundation’s Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning in ICT corroborates this view and calls for further education policy and R&D to reframe how education and training are imparted in Africa, as this is crucial to the continent’s innovation future. There is a need to reimagine primary and secondary education, as well extra curricula training, to ensure that the education the young people receive is relevant and applicable to industry needs.


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