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UN forum unveils wonders of artificial intelligence and other sciences, technologies and innovations for Africa

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Africa could grow its economy by a staggering $ 1.5 trillion, capturing just 10% of the rapidly growing artificial intelligence (AI) market, which is expected to reach $ 15.7 trillion ‘by 2030.

Vera Songwe, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), made the point on Thursday.

She was addressing several ministers and other participants at the Third African Regional Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation (ARSTI2021), through the Director of the Technology, Climate Change and Development Division. development of natural resources of the ECA, Jean Paul Adam.

“The growth of AI can help create additional decent and high-value jobs, reduce poverty, increase business productivity, preserve the environment and promote better living conditions,” she added.

“Research has shown that AI has the potential to solve some of the most pressing challenges Africa faces and to boost sustainable development in agriculture, health, infrastructure, financial services and public and climate change, ”Songwe said.

The Executive Secretary of ECA said that the Republic of Congo, which hosts the Forum in situ in Brazzaville and online, is in a special sub-region, endowed with natural capital, such as immense forests. However, these forests have been disproportionately depleted compared to those in other regions of the world, in part due to climate change. Artificial intelligence, she argued, could improve on already existing technologies that have been used to fight COVID-19, to solve these climate change issues.

The imminent creation of an African artificial intelligence research center in Brazzaville, Congo, with the support of the ECA, could give a boost to this new movement in Africa.

Léon Juste Ibombo, Congolese Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and the Digital Economy, congratulated the ECA for its substantive work towards the creation of the Center, which, he said, “demonstrates that Africa is innovative and uninhibited ”.

The Center is designed to improve the current landscape of artificial intelligence research in Congo and Africa in general, to guide the use of AI to foster economic and social development, while promoting close collaboration between universities and industry in AI and robotics across Africa.

According to Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, it is such investments and strong partnerships for capacity building in science, technology and innovation that would accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. (SDGs) in Africa.

“Innovation cannot be decreed; it’s planned and designed! Enthusiastic Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Minister of Tourism and Environment of Congo.

“Africa therefore has no excuse to be absent from the great meeting of innovation, which defines the twenty-first century,” she warned, adding that academics, economists and industry must unite to lead today’s skinny in this exciting world.

In such a world, “The STI we teach will determine what our continent will become,” echoed – Amon Murwira, Minister of Higher and Higher Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, Zimbabwe.

“Our industry must emerge from our classrooms and our laboratories,” supported by a correct education system design and framework that no longer teaches students “where they get things but how to make them,” he said. he insisted, citing “Education 5.0” philosophy. The philosophy is sequenced on (i) teaching, (ii) research, (iii) community awareness, (iv) innovation and (v) industrialization.

It is therefore up to Africa to take up this challenge of rapidly improving investments and attention to STIs, based on its endowments in nature and biodiversity – “our surest guarantee” – declared Parfait Aimé Coussoud Mavoungou , Minister of Scientific Research and Technological Innovation of Congo and incoming president of the Forum.

ARSTI2021 offers several debates and breakout sessions to track and review the progress made since the first two sessions of 2109 and 2020.

He also presented an innovation bootcamp for young Africans, both in person in Brazzaville and connecting across the continent and giving them the opportunity to develop projects using the skills they have learned in robotics and AI, as well as access to 3D printing technologies. .

By the time the Forum concludes on Friday, it would have identified potential mechanisms and measures that African countries could deploy to leverage STI to achieve the sustainable development goals and aspirations of Agenda 2063.

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