KIGALI, June 14 (Xinhua) -- Experts have emphasized the need for African countries to strengthen the growth of basic sciences to accelerate technology development on the continent.
Science and education experts, technology scholars, researchers, and government officials attending the African Continental Conference on Basic Sciences for Transformation in Kigali, Rwanda, have stated that the future prosperity of the continent depends on robust investment in inclusive and innovative basic sciences.
Vaughan Turekian, executive director of the Policy and Global Affairs Division of the US-based National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, expressed that science should not be limited to one country or region but should be inclusive and shared for the benefit of all.
Luc Allemand, secretary general of the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD), stressed the transformative potential of developing basic sciences in Africa, highlighting how advancements in science and technology can drive economic and technological growth and generate employment opportunities.
"Basic science is instrumental in the development of society and the expansion of human knowledge, benefiting various aspects of our lives, including energy, environment, and agriculture," said Valentine Uwamariya, Rwandan minister of Education at the conference.
She highlighted that many of the revolutionary inventions and developments the world enjoys today, such as electricity, telecommunications, computers, and modern medicine, are a direct result of basic scientific research through discoveries and new technologies.
Uwamariya pointed out that Rwanda has established a Bioeconomy Skills Development and Acceleration Center in pursuit of a competitive and effective pharma and biotechnology in Rwanda. She said that the center will provide the necessary laboratory space and resources for the development of skills that the bioeconomy demands, enabling the Rwandan workforce to be qualified and competent in this emerging sector.
Amal Kasry, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)'s chief of the Section in Basic Sciences, Research Innovation, and Engineering, highlighted the significance of strengthening basic sciences in Africa to address challenges in healthcare and energy resources. Basic science serves as the foundation for applied research, enabling the development of techniques and applications to tackle various challenges such as water and climate change mitigation, she added.
The two-day conference, which opened Tuesday, was organized by UNESCO in collaboration with Rwanda's Ministry of Education. It is part of the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development. It brought together delegates from local educational institutions, as well as representatives from international organizations including UNESCO, the World Academy of Sciences, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
The event featured exhibitions showcasing hands-on training tools for teachers and students, including micro-science kits, artificial intelligence (AI) robotics, a virtual reality chemistry lab by Chemists Without Borders, and displays by national exhibitors engaged in scientific research.
The conference aimed to demonstrate developing science and technology will support economic growth, including increased trade and investment opportunities to support the growth of regional economies and the creation of job opportunities. ■