The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), in partnership with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Stellenbosch University (SU), have launched a Centre of Excellence in Science, Technology and Innovation to upscale and commercialise home-grown innovations on the continent.
The AUDA-NEPAD Centre of Excellence in Science, Technology and Innovation (AUDA-NEPAD CoE-STI) is one of five centres of excellence, which are the African Union’s (AU) instruments for leveraging knowledge and science-backed innovations to support accelerated implementation of Agenda 2063. The other centres of excellence are focused on rural resources and food systems; climate resilience; human capital and institutions development; and supply chain and logistics.
Under the unique tripartite partnership, the AUDA-NEPAD CoE-STI aims to leverage the research and science capabilities from the continent and connect this to policy and implementation efforts to respond to continental development priorities.
Over 40 home-grown innovations have already been identified. These are innovations coming out of long-running programmes in SU and CSIR, and represent widely tested and proven technologies or practices ready for upscaling and/or commercialisation across the continent. The innovations cover a wide spectrum of solutions in areas such as health, renewable energy, agriculture, water, and sanitation to support countries in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Building Africa’s science, technology and innovation capacities for accelerated and sustainable growth and development is a strategic priority for South Africa’s new Decadal Plan for Science, Technology and Innovation. South Africa is, thus, honoured to host the new Centre of Excellence, which the Department of Science and Innovation is looking forward to cooperate with, building on our historic support for pan-African science programmes. The Centre of Excellence should also serve as catalyst for enhanced and deepened intra-African cooperation, responding to the challenges presented by Covid-19 and leveraging opportunities such as the new African Continental Free Trade Area,” said Daan du Toit on behalf of Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation.
“The Covid-19 crisis has shown that Science, Technology and Innovation play a vital role in fighting the devasting impact of the pandemic. The continent needs to look inwards to develop, strengthen and upscale innovations that could help fight the pandemic and build greater resilience in the post-Covid era. Through the CoE-STI partnership with CSIR and SU, AUDA-NEPAD is proud to act as a channel to connect African innovators to governments and clients to roll-out and localise these home-grown solutions. The AUDA-NEPAD Centres of Excellence will bring innovative and agile solutions to scale in critical sectors affected by the pandemic,” said Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of AUDA-NEPAD.
“The establishment of this centre signifies the beginning of a huge task that we have set for ourselves, which is to unearth innovations on the continent. In fact, not just to unearth these innovations, but to make sure that they contribute to alleviating the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality in Africa. Our partnership with AUDA-NEPAD and Stellenbosch University will boost Africa’s research, development and innovation (RDI) capacity, as well as contribute to the development of technologies and their deployment for socioeconomic transformation in Africa,” said Dr Thulani Dlamini, CSIR CEO.
“I am really excited by what is happening on African soil, with African collaboration and partnerships. If we work together, the possibilities of what we can achieve are endless. Africa driving its own agenda, converting its enormous potential into actual products and services making a positive difference to the lives of our continent’s 1.3 billion people is not a far-fetched idea”, SU Rector and Vice Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers, Vice Chancellor.
The AUDA-NEPAD CoE-STI provides a continental platform for supporting and sourcing of funding and other resources for the up-scaling, dissemination and localisation of proven innovations from research and partner organisations. The centre will connect African-driven knowledge and research hubs with other knowledge and research ecosystems across the continent. Furthermore, it will act as a platform for innovators to access alternative options regarding how to reach their clients when rolling out new solutions.