Director of the Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resources Division (TCND) of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr. Jean-Paul Adam has cited renewable energy as a key ingredient in Africa’s growth prospects.
Mr. Adam cited a recent ECA study which revealed that there is a more than 250 percent job creation growth in the renewable energy sectors compared with the number of hydrocarbons-related jobs. This, according to him, speaks to the need for African countries to develop a coherent investment policy for renewable energy as the locomotive for green recovery for the entire continent.
“It is therefore clear that the key to accelerating growth is adopting renewable energy technologies. Another benefit of renewable technologies is their great employment value; they drive growth by creating jobs”.
Speaking at the third edition of the African Forum on Science, Technology, and Innovation during which hundreds of young Africans were initiated in STI trades, Mr. Adam explained that the Forum which started in 2019 was a recognition of the fact that sustainable development goals were not being achieved by focussing only on the current growth rates.
According to him, there was, thus, the need to reverse the situation by focusing on Science, Technology, and Innovation which afford the continent numerous development avenues, notably the fourth industrial revolution through the digitalization of economies.
He noted that several ECA initiatives in partnership with member States have driven progress in strengthening innovation centers in various countries. He added that the ECA has equally strengthened training capacity in universities for technologies, especially biotechnology.
“Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need to adapt technology to new progress made as part of efforts to bring the pandemic under control. We also need to be better forearmed for the future and build resilience against climate change. It is also important to harness the potential of Africa’s youth bulge, which is the engine for Africa’s renewal, the very locomotive for regional, continental and global recovery”.
Responding to a question on the number of research and innovation hubs established across the member states and the ECA’s readiness to support member countries, he indicated that the ECA has assisted the Member States in the areas of policy and the enabling environment which fosters the emergence of innovation hubs increasing the number of centers in Africa.
“The number of hubs rose from 442 in 2018 to 643 in 2019. This is partly a logical consequence of one of the recommendations of the previous editions of the Forum and the result of ECA’s policy support to the Member States to ease the development and establishment of hubs either within universities or in the business world. The goal is to create an environment which permits the mainstreaming of innovation into entrepreneurship and business”.
One of the recommendations of the second session of the Forum organized in 2020 called on African countries to draw lessons from elsewhere and invest more in green technology. Touching on the progress made so far, Mr. Jean Paul Adam stressed that “it is important to acknowledge that it is a transition given that Africa has a huge challenge in terms of access to energy. There are nearly 500 million Africans who still do not have access to electricity. To connect the entire continent, we need various forms of investments, but we give priority to green energy”.
He stated that the third Forum allowed working with young entrepreneurs who may tap into this digital opportunity.
“Like in 2020, a boot camp was also organized this year. It is a workshop for tooling young people with skills in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics. This helps them to venture into innovation-based entrepreneurship. It is an opportunity for Africa”.