African scientists root for research and innovation to hasten

21Nov 2020
The Guardian
African scientists root for research and innovation to hasten
  • pandemic recovery

GREATER investments in evidence-based research, technology and innovation should inform efforts to hasten post-COVID-19 recovery of African economies and livelihoods, scientists said on Thursday.

Hamadi Boga, principal secretary.

The African scientists and policymakers who attended a virtual summit in Nairobi agreed that leveraging home-based research and innovation has the potential to boost pandemic recovery in the continent.

Hamadi Boga, principal secretary in Kenya's ministry of agriculture in his opening remarks said that COVID-19 offers a chance for African countries to re-imagine policies and ensure they promote inclusive growth, climate resilience and food security.

"We should promote research and evidence-based policymaking to help re-awaken economies and livelihoods impacted negatively by the COVID crisis," said Boga.

"There is a huge potential for scientific research and innovation to accelerate pandemic recovery through enhanced response to the food, health and climate crisis," he added.

The Nairobi-based Africa Research and Impact Network organized the summit titled "Africa in the Post-COVID-19 world: Lessons for research and policy."

Dozens of African policymakers, scientists and health advocates attending the three-day virtual summit which ends on Friday said that collaborative research and innovation could help place the continent on a sustainable pandemic recovery pathway.

Joanes Atela, a senior researcher at Nairobi-based Africa Center for Technology Studies said that governments should prioritize policy interventions that cushion vulnerable demographics from COVID-related shocks.

"The solution to some of the shocks linked to the pandemic including declining food security and incomes lies in creating a platform to share knowledge, experience and best practices that have worked elsewhere," said Atela.

He said that increased budgetary allocation for research, technology and innovation is key to building resilience of African economies, livelihoods and ecosystems during the pandemic era.

Atela said that action on climate change, sustainable use of natural resources and urban renewal will enable African countries to withstand shocks linked to COVID-19.

Participants said the pandemic recovery should lay emphasis on rebuilding ecosystems to help address the climate crisis, poverty, hunger, disease and inequality.

Richard Munang, Africa Regional Climate coordinator at the UN Environment (UNEP) said the continent has the potential to recover from the COVID crisis subject to policy reforms and investments to strengthen the resilience of communities and their ecosystems.

"The focus of our attention should be how to restore the health of our economies and ecosystems that underpins livelihoods in order to realize a sustainable post-COVID-19 future," said Munang.

He said that governments should enact policies that encourage innovation in agriculture, health and energy to help rebuild livelihoods devastated by the pandemic. Read More...