Africa is considered a global laggard when it comes to innovation and developments. However, this perception has changed given the various contributions that the continent has made towards the global digital arena.
At first it seems improbable, a continent overwhelmed by conflict, poverty, hunger and illiteracy becoming the next hub of scientific research and innovation. Africans are now stepping up after decades of academic isolation and inadequate leadership for science and technology.
The problem was compounded by low-quality educational curricula and the fact that global funding is skewed more toward health and agricultural development and less so toward science, technology, mathematics and engineering projects. (STEM).
According to statistics from the World Bank, Africa as a whole accounts for less than one percent of the world’s entire expenditure on research and development. In contrast, North America accounts for 37 per cent of total spending, Asia 31 per cent, Europe 27 per cent, and Latin America and the Caribbean three per cent.
But all is not lost, as more and more African researchers are broadening their horizon and engaging in much-needed projects ranging from health, food security, energy, digital programs, agriculture and poverty.
According to Atlanta Black star, an increasing number of institutions, individuals and governments are heralding a new era for scientific research by providing funds for diverse and Africa-specific scientific solutions. These include the Grand Challenges Africa Grants, which this year partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide $7 million in grants over the next five years for scientific breakthroughs in maternal health care and precision medicine in Africa.
However, before Africa can achieve its full potential, it must overcome the barriers holding it back, particularly dismal investment in research and technological innovations and limited access to higher education.