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Africa Urged to Reduce Poverty With Scientific, Technological Innovation


ADDIS ABABA, Xinhua: Africa’s share of global poor people has increased significantly, with one reason being low scientific and technological progress across the continent, a senior official of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) said.

At the opening of the Sixth African Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Forum on Sunday in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, Deputy Executive Secretary of UNECA Antonio Pedro said Africa’s share of global poor people increased from 15 percent in 1990 to 63 percent in 2018 and may reach 90 percent by 2030.

Pedro said Africa must invest in human capital development, learn how to produce, sell and use emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and genomics that are transforming every aspect of life.

“Science and technology can advance the wellbeing of millions of households, farmers, fishermen, and many others that still use basic tools, and with the help of science and technology they can be lifted out of extreme poverty,” said Pedro.

He said globally, the number of people living in poverty declined from 1.9 billion to 689 million between 1990 and 2018, while that of Africa increased from 283 million to 433 million during the same time.

Pedro said science and technology can play an important role in increasing the efficiency of service delivery to the poor, monitoring living conditions and predicting imminent crises in crowded or remote areas.

Noting that about 1 billion people in Africa cannot afford a healthy diet, Pedro said Africa is unlikely to meet the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods, adopted by the African Union Assembly Heads of State and Government in June 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, to end all forms of hunger by 2025.

He said science, technology and innovation are critical to transform the continent’s agriculture and industry and build a prosperous Africa.

UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Science Lidia Arthur Brito said international collaboration in science is an ideal way to foster peace and sustainable development in Africa.

“By investing in science and promoting innovation, African societies can empower the youth to become not only drivers of economic growth but also drivers of solutions to pressing environmental challenges,” Brito said, adding that scientific research must be linked to societies and local communities to bring about the desired socio-economic development.

Held ahead of the African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, the STI Forum is organized by the UNECA in collaboration with the African Union Commission and other partners, under the theme “Effective delivery of innovative science and technology solutions to reinforce the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063 and eradicate poverty in Africa.”