In a bid to promote development through science and technology, the Economic Commission of West African States, ECOWAS, has officially launched the African Research and Innovation Forum, FARI, with the theme “Science, Technology and Innovation for a competitive ECOWAS”
The aim of the Forum is to improve public understanding of the role of science, technology and Innovation in socio-economic development.
It was first conceived in 2012 when ECOWAS adopted its policy on Science, Technology and Innovation and its action plan.
Speaking at the official launch, Nigeria’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Adeleke Mamora, said the African forum is dedicated to the promotion of science, technology and innovation and is a platform for the exchange of ideas and discussions among scientists, innovators, policy makers, private sector, technical and financial partners to showcase inventions and innovations for growth and development of the sub region.
He said Nigeria as a nation can no longer afford to be a consuming nation but a productive one hence the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation is continuously seeking ways of commercializing the various research and development projects and expressed optimism that the forum will be an avenue for scientists to network among themselves, share information to move research and development forward.
According to him, Nigeria has continued to assist various groups and body of entrepreneurs through the provision of enabling environment, grant support in order to generate the required budget to create a better society hence the Ministry is not leaving any stone unturned for the peace, progress and development of the nation.
The Minister, described the advent of COVID-19 pandemic as a blessing in disguise for it had made international cooperation and collaboration become increasingly important to all nations which impacted Science, Technology and Innovation policies geared towards solving global challenges in the spirit of global solidarity.
President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau and Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, Umaro Embalo, expressed pleasure with the initiative, saying it will enable all countries of the region to exchange best practices in the field of science and technology.
President Embalo, who was represented by the Ambassador of Guinea Bissau to Nigeria, Dr. Ribeiro Butiam, said he has always attached importance to Science and Technology in his mandate, as factors that would favour the acceleration of the industrialisation of the region which makes the Forum of the utmost importance, since science, technology and innovation are the tripartite that should lift the continent out of poverty.
He believes that the forum as a framework for strengthening the integration of both political and scientific decision makers; stakeholders including scientists of the region, policy makers, journalists, all the actors of region must unite and contribute through the frameworks of reflection to changes in mindsets to improve the image of member States.
The Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs, ECOWAS, Professor Fatou Sarr, who doubles as convener of the launch, said the forum is of paramount importance for developing countries in the sub region.
According to her, the standard of living of a nation depends to a large extent on its scientific and technological development, as such, for the development of research and innovation, there must be a political and financial commitment from all African nations and at all levels.
Professor Sarr, noted that the development of science and technology in Africa requires significant resources.
“However, far from being exclusively a question of resources, this development depends, to a large extent, on a strong political will: that of defining an effective strategy enabling the pooling of skills and federating all energies around a common vision: to make Science, Technology and Innovation the engine of development”, She said.
The convening of the African Research and Innovation Forum, she further stressed, marks an important turning point in the promotion of science and technology at the regional level.
Prof Sarr described it as a framework for strengthening regional cooperation in the science and technology sector as the outcome of the resolutions that will emerge from the regional framework of reflection with concrete proposals to achieve a qualitative leap towards the realisation of the ECOWAS STI vision 2050.
Daily News Reporters