Africa’s scientific output is the lowest in the world. As a continent of over a billion people and more than 50 nations, it has been producing roughly the same amount of scientific research as the Netherlands for the last 20 years. And not only does Africa have the world’s lowest tertiary enrolment rate – of 7% compared to a world average of 30% – but science is often further underrepresented and overlooked by students, with only around one in ten choosing STEM subjects at university. While since 2000 the situation has been slowly improving, the pace of change is still far slower that of other emerging regions, particularly in Asia and South America, and Africa is at risk of continuing to lag behind in the global race and depend on others for scientific knowledge and expertise.
It is this dependency we seek to end, bringing African science, technology and innovation to the level at which it can independently drive its own development agenda. Scientific independence is not and could never be scientific isolation – collaboration and cooperation is at the heart of scientific progression – but scientific independence for Africa means ultimately Africa can take better control of its resources, its people and its future.
We believe a scientifically independent Africa is one with science, technology and innovation fully embedded in its governmental policies and priorities, delivered by properly resourced and empowered educational institutions. A scientifically independent Africa will have both the ability to train and keep brilliant scientists on the continent, and create an inspiring new generation of academic leaders. Ultimately, we believe scientific independence means that African problems can be solved by African-led solutions. Yes, supported by working in partnership with others around the globe, but with Africa independent and empowered to design and deliver its own sustainable future.
Our vision of scientific independence is bigger than just us or any single organisation, and we hope to work with all those who want to see world-leading science emanating from Africa and at the heart of its development agenda.
“Investing in science, technology and innovation in Africa needs bravery. It's not going to give instant impact or help those in need today, but I believe it is the only road that leads to a sustainable, prosperous future for our beautiful continent"
Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, PEI Chairman
Africa’s tertiary enrolment rate is 7% compared to a global average of 30%
14% of the the world’s population live in Africa yet just 1% of the world’s scientists do.
Africa has less than 10% of scientists per capita than Latin America
If you’re working on science, technology and innovation in Africa, or your passionate about these issues, we’d love to have you join our #scienceAfrica campaign, share the vision and help strengthen future projects and programmes.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Independence means pursuing your own research ideas, getting your own funding and running your own laboratory. But, while most academics in training aspire to freedom, to become independent you need to break free from your research adviser, and you need to take some sizeable risks. The process often requires once-in-a-lifetime career decisions and difficult lifestyle choices. Independence also comes with a hefty list of tasks and responsibilities that few aspiring scientists receive formal training for.
Africa has its own economy, lifestyle and norms that are unique and rich. No one else will do our research for us if we don’t do it ourselves. To have a future that we all dream of, we shall have to start building our own solutions which begin with intensive scientific research and investing in scientists who will be our future flag bearers