African Development Bank (AfDB) has said it has committed $2 billion to the education and training of six million science students in Africa from 2005 to date.
A statement by the bank’s Communication and External Relations Department on Thursday in Abuja, said Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, AfDB’s president, disclosed this at the Tokyo International Conference of African Development (TICAD) in Japan.
Adesina said the bank was strongly supporting Africa to train and develop the next generation of scientists.
“Since 2005, we have provided financing of over two billion dollars to support education; this has provided education opportunities for six million students.
“We are proud of our investment in supporting the establishment of the Regional Center of Excellence in Kigali, in conjunction with the Carnegie Mellon University, which is providing world-class Masters degree training in ICT.
“I am delighted that all the students that have graduated from the university have 100 per cent employment, including setting up their own businesses.
“The bank has supported the establishment of ICT digital parks in Senegal and Cape Verde.
“We are working with the Rockefeller Foundation, Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn and Safaricom to establish coding centres in several countries,” he said.
Adesina thanked the Government of Japan for its strategic partnership with the bank in promoting science and technology in Africa.
He said the bank supported the establishment of the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology in Egypt, the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, and the African University of Science and Technology in Nigeria.
According to him, in partnership with Japan, the Education for Sustainable Development in Africa (ESDA) has supported inter-university partnerships between eight African and four Japanese universities.
He added that the Japan Africa Dream Scholarship Programme between the AfDB and Japan had supported African students to study in diverse fields of specialisation, including energy, agriculture, health, environmental sciences and engineering.
He said the collaboration also promoted university-industry partnerships.
“We greatly appreciate the support of the Government of Japan for the Science, Technology and Innovation Forum.
“As we look toward the future, I would like to suggest seven key areas to prioritise on Africa’s drive in science and technology.
“Africa must establish more universities of science and technologies, especially regional centres of excellence and ensure they are very well funded.
“There’s an urgent need to increase the share of GDP that is devoted to science and technology to help Africa boost its competitiveness.
“We must close the gender gap in higher education and strongly support more female students to go into science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“Equally important is the need to provide strong support to the Africa Institute of Mathematical Sciences – a world-class network of universities and African global scholars that will be critical for driving the 4th industrial revolution,” he said.
The president said there was a need to expand digital infrastructure across the continent to drive down the cost of broadband crucial for quantum data analytics.
Adesina also emphasised the need to strategically support universities to fast-track the development of technology and innovation entrepreneurship platforms.
According to him, there is need to work innovatively and collaboratively to establish and scale-up private equity funds that will boost innovations across Africa.