History tells us that no region in the world has been able to achieve economic and social progress without the knowledge and application of science and technology. All modern advances are built on a solid foundation of scientific knowledge. Yet Africa, which is in dire need of scientific knowledge is currently at the bottom of the heap in this regard.
In a report published last year that ranked the world's universities, there was not a single African institution in the top 200! In the overall rankings, all regions of the world were represented--except the sub-Saharan Africa region. It has abysmal statistics: 83 engineers and scientists per million population against 423 in North Africa, 783 in Asia (excluding Japan), 514 in all developing countries and 1,102 across industrial countries
Over the years, engineering and sciences have been the engines for industrial development, employment creation and improvement of living conditions around the world.
A study carried out in 1994 showed that MIT engineers have created more than 4,000 companies with total sales of $232bn, more than the combined GDP (in 2002 current prices) of all countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) excluding South Africa.
Similarly, most of the economic development achieved by India over the past decades is largely attributed to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).
Yet sub-Saharan Africa, the poorest region in the world, has no reputable institution of excellence in science. The good news, however, is that all this is about to change with the launch of a new initiative. It is called The Nelson Mandela Institution for Knowledge Building and the Advancement of Science and Technology in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is an African initiative named after President Mandela for his visionary leadership, commitment to excellence in education and to the development of Africa. The initiative envisions the transformation of sub-Saharan Africa's industrial and economic landscape and the strengthening of its socio-cultural foundation.
It is rooted in a strong public-private and industry-academy partnership for long-term sustainability. It is a groundbreaking initiative to foster economic growth and diversification, value addition and employment creation, through the promotion of excellence in science, engineering and their applications--a development strategy successfully used in other regions of the world over the years.
Main pillars of initiative
Indeed, the success...