This was during a four-day training workshop organised by the National Institute of Science and Technology and Innovation (Nisti) in partnership with the African Science, Technology & Innovation Initiative (Astii) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad).
Experts in the field of data collection from the Seychelles National Bureau of Statistic, the Information Management System of the Ministry of Education and the Guy Morel Institute are following the training while others will be brought on board in due course.
A team of four experts led by Professor Luke Mumba, Astii programme coordinator from the Nepad planning and coordinating agency in Pretoria South Africa, were here to conduct the training.
The aim was to impart new skills to officials and specialists already dealing with scientific research, data and statistics collection so they can produce core science technology and innovation indicators as part of the process leading to the publication on a regular basis of national reports on science, technology and innovation statistics.
“Science, technology and innovation are key drivers of economic development but the difference between rich and poor countries is how much each country invests in science, technology and innovation.” Prof. Mumba explained.
“In the field of agriculture, health and environment and science, technology and innovation are essential and African leaders have been aware of this for a long time and they have expressed the need to invest in these areas if we want to improve health and reduce poverty,” Prof. Mumba added.
He pointed out that through the African Union (AU), different strategies and various plans of action and programmes at national and regional levels have been proposed by our leaders to try and advance Africa using science, technology and innovations. He stressed on the need to put in place good policies that would stimulate science, technology and innovation on the continent because this is what would create jobs for and improve the wellbeing of our people.
“But the challenges are how do we measure the success of these policies? How do we ensure they are translating into economic wellbeing and how are they reducing poverty? There have been no methods to measure the level of success or failure,” Prof Mumba explained.
He noted that it was in 2007 that the AU and the Nepad agreed to put in place a programme to measure African countries’ development in the field of science, technology and innovation through statistics collected, thus the need for the right indicators to follow.
“The training therefore is to train officials so they know how to conduct surveys to collect information and statistics by interacting with government officials, research organisations, private sector and non-governmental organisations representatives,’ Prof. Mumba pointed out.
He said once the survey would be completed, a national report would be drafted and it will target government officials, policy makers and parliamentarians so they know where the country stands in terms of its performance in science, technology and innovations, the level of investments in that area, the number of people involved in that area among other details.
“We want each and every country in Africa to produce such a country report based on which the AU will produce a continental report which will compare how well the different countries are doing in terms of science, technology and innovation. This would allow for each country to know how others are doing and for better policies to be put in place to help countries bridge gaps in this area.
The training has already been conducted in over 40 AU member countries where the survey is already underway.
“This is also about integration and doing things together as Africans for the betterment of our continent,” Prof. Mumba said.
He added that in collaboration with Nisti, policy briefs targeting specific issues from the report will be produced.
The survey is expected to start during the last part of the year and the report will be drafted and ready next year.
Nisti chief executive Xavier Estico welcomed such a training which he said is a great opportunity for Seychelles. “This training comes to strengthen what we already know in terms of data collection, it will boost our capacity and provide us with our own local indicators to better benchmark ourselves and provide the tools for us to be able to conduct similar surveys in the future,” Mr Estico added.
“We are very confident we can carry out the survey and we are hoping to be in the next African innovations outlook report and this is very important for us as we will know where we are and where we stand in terms of science, technology and innovation,” Mr Estico concluded.