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Professor of the Practice of International Development
Juma, Calestous. "Education, Research, and Innovation in Africa: Forging Strategic Linkages for Economic Transformation." Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, Discussion Paper 2016-01, February 2016.
Africa is a youthful continent: nearly 41% of its population is under the age of 18. To address the unique challenges of this demographic structure, the African Union (AU) has adopted a 50-year Agenda 2063 to help guide the socioeconomic transformation of the continent with particular reference to the youth. One of the objectives of Agenda 2063 is to reposition the continent as a strategic player in the global economy through improved education and application of science and technology in development. The AU’s Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa, 2024 (STISA-2024) provides an intial 10-year framework for pursuing this goal. Achieving the objectives of STISA-2024 will require aligning education, research and innovation with long-term socioeconomic objectives. This paper argues that the AU’s Specialized Technical Committee on Education, Science and Technology (STC-EST) is well-positioned to play a strategic role in guiding and fostering the reforms needed to improve the integration of education, research and innovation. The paper proposes the creation of “Innovation Universities” that combine research, teaching, community service and commercialization in their missions and operations. They would depart from the common practice where teaching is carried out in universities that do little research, and where research is done in national research institutes that do not undertake teaching. Under this model, there is little connection with productive sectors. The idea therefore is not just to create linkages between those activities but to pursue them in a cordinated way under the same university structure. Innovation universities can be created in diverse fields such as agriculture, health, industry, services, and environment to advance sustainable development and inclusive growth.
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