South Africa is this week hosting the third Senior Experts Dialogue on Science, Technology and Innovation and the African Transformation Agenda (SED 2016) which, among other things, is expected to help African countries identify the main opportunities and challenges at different policy and organizational levels for leveraging and maximizing the rapid rise of cities, including the rise of mega-cities on the continent to drive innovation and invention.
The meeting, which will be held in Pretoria from November 2 – 4, 2016, also seeks to identify key elements and issues, based on local as well as international experience, that African governments, along with their international development partners, can take into account in formulating action plans to turn their cities from manufacturing and trade hubs into innovation hubs and centres.
The 2016 SED will be held under the theme “Cities as Innovation Hubs for Africa’s Transformation” in collaboration with the African Union Commission and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Planning and Coordinating Agency with the support of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the Republic of South Africa.
Kasirim Nwuke, of the New Technologies and Innovation Section in the Economic Commission for Africa’s Special Initiatives Division, says the ECA initiated the SED after realizing the importance of technology and innovation in transforming African cities into inclusive, safe and sustainable human settlements.
“Many African countries have recognized this need and are beginning to take measures to address it. These measures include the development of new cities focused on innovation and the knowledge economy,” he said.
Some of the SED 2016 expected outcomes include the production of a policymaker’s guide and recommendations for consideration and adoption by African governments, their development partners and the private sector, a research and analytical report on “Cities as hubs of Innovation in Africa” and policy briefs and working papers on STI on the continent.
Discussions will be held under such topics as “Industrialisation and the role of cities”, “Defining the African terrain: Emerging trends towards cities and hubs of innovation” and “Can new African cities address the innovation challenge?”
SED provides an arena for rigorous interrogation of STI policies and frameworks, discussion of emerging issues in STI, experience sharing and peer learning. In this role, it provides a platform for surfacing, identifying, and addressing leading issues likely to enhance the ability of African countries to harness STI to achieve their structural transformation and sustainable development objectives.
SED 2016 will also look at ways through which African countries can deploy existing technologies and innovation to advance and improve the efficiency of their cities to enable them serve as innovation hubs and centres and help Africa identify a possible set of regulatory reforms that can facilitate the ability of Africa’s cities to foster innovation and come up with a set of indicators for assessing the performance of African cities as centres or hubs of innovation.
The SED is an initiative of the ECA designed to support member States to leverage STI to drive the structural transformation of their economies.
The first SED was held in 2014 in Abuja, Nigeria, with the support of the country’s Federal Ministry of Science and Technology under the theme “Making New Technologies Work for Africa” and the second was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2015 on the theme “Innovation Hubs, Clusters and Parks and Africa’s Transformation” and was co-organized with and hosted by the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) of the Government of Kenya.