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SFA Foundation and AUDA-NEPAD announce landmark partnership to advance science and innovation in Africa

Monday, February 26, 2024

The partnership will contribute to accelerating scientific progress to enable the continent to achieve the Agenda 2063’s key transformational outcomes.

The Science for Africa Foundation (SFA Foundation) and the African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) agreed to advance Africa’s Agenda 2063 Second Ten-Year Implementation Plan through the implementation of long-term scientific programmes on the continent by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). 

The MoU signed by the respective Chief Executive Officers of the SFA Foundation and AUDA NEPAD, Prof Tom Kariuki and Madam Nardos Bekele-Thomas seeks to leverage the partnership to accelerate and harness science for Africa’s development. 

Progress has been made in advancing science through continental programmes aimed at funding research and measuring R&D spending, including the AUDA-NEPAD's Africa Innovation Outlook. The programmes have successfully created high value jobs, developed young African scientists -particularly women- and facilitated intra-Africa collaboration. However, gaps persist. According to the World Bank (Year of this reference/publication i.e., 2019), African countries allocate an average of 0.4% of their national budgets to research and development compared to global averages of between 1.4%-1.7%. Consequently, they have yet to meet the African Union target of allocating one percent of their gross domestic product to research and development. Additionally, despite having 17 percent of the world’s population, Africa contributes just 2.6% of the world’s research output (UNESCO Science Report) and holds only 0.1% of the world’s patents.

The partnership will contribute to accelerating scientific progress to enable the continent to achieve Agenda 2063’s key transformational outcomes that include improved living standards, inclusive and sustainable economies, empowered women, youth and children and a well governed and integrated Africa.

AUDA–NEPAD serves as the continent's premier development agency and technical interface, connecting with all of Africa's development stakeholders and development partners. Its mandate includes coordinating and executing priority regional and continental projects to foster the acceleration of Agenda 2063. Additionally, AUDA-NEPAD aims to strengthen the capacity of Member States and regional bodies in key identified areas, provide knowledge-based advisory support and undertake the full range of resource mobilisation. 

“Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) is the bloodline for Africa’s transformation. That is why we aim to build collaborations that spark new ideas and bring about real, meaningful change to drive the realisation of Agenda 2063. By leveraging the power of STI, we can address important issues such as sustainable development, the empowerment of youth, women and children, and improved access to healthcare and quality education for all, creating a future where innovation leads to lasting positive impact.” said Madam Nardos Bekele-Thomas, CEO of AUDA-NEPAD.

The SFA Foundation is a pan-African, non-profit and public charity organisation that supports, strengthens, and promotes science and innovation in Africa and serves the African research ecosystem by funding excellent ideas in research and innovation; enabling interdisciplinary collaborations and building and reinforcing environments that are conducive for scientists to thrive and produce quality research that generates new, locally relevant knowledge. The SFA Foundation’s engagement in the partnership will be through its five-year organisational strategy, which is the vehicle through which the public charity reinforces the research ecosystem for scientists to thrive and produce quality research that generates new, locally relevant knowledge.

“The true realisation of Africa’s development agenda and the Africa we want as espoused by Agenda 2063 is pegged on establishing meaningful engagements that enhance, promote and create avenues for the optimisation of the scientific diversity and expertise within our continent. This will create a conducive environment for the development and implementation of African led solutions whose impact exceeds our borders,” said Prof Thomas Kariuki, CEO of the SFA Foundation.

The Agenda 2063 articulates that Africa’s sustained growth, competitiveness and economic transformation will require sustained investment in new technologies and continuous innovation, particularly in areas such as agriculture, clean energy, education, health and bio-sciences. These strategic areas align with the focus of the SFA Foundation, which, guided by its assessment of Africa’s science landscape, has committed to focus on three key interrelated priority areas of science: Health; Agricultural; and Climate and Environmental Science over the next five years of its organisational strategy.

To contribute to the sustained continental growth, the partnership will prioritise:

  • Establishing systems for harnessing science, innovation and emerging technologies for the socio-economic development of Africa. In this regard, the partnership aims to mobilise support for science and innovation, promote science policy engagement and diplomacy and facilitate knowledge sharing on emerging technologies.
  • Creating an enabling environment for research and development. The SFA Foundation and AUDA-NEPAD will collaborate to facilitate continental dialogues, bringing together African experts from various fields in partnership with continental and global organisations and bodies. The partnership will also advocate for governments to invest in science contribute to the global body of knowledge through scientific publications and advance science and innovation. 

 The objectives will be achieved through a detailed Joint Action Plan that will operationalise the MoU. 

Media Enquiries

Nqobile Zwane | [email protected]  

SFA Foundation
Nyawira Gikandi | [email protected]