The five thematic pillars for the Summit are as follows:-
Science, Technology, and Innovation in Africa
The acquisition and deployment of science and technology is a critical determinant of the developmental status of countries in today’s global marketplace. It is evident that progress in science, technology, and ICT in particular, has played a significant role in the success of developed countries as well as the rapid growth of emerging Asian economies. In Africa however, the story is very different. The lack of scientific and technological advancement is a major contributory factor to economic stagnation on the continent. Against this background, it is imperative that a series of concerted interventions be adopted and sustained to institutionalize a scientific and technological culture in Africa. This will among other things, involve: developing a coherent science policy, stepping up funding for scientific research, setting up viable networks for scientific information exchange and mutual support, and integrating science into national, regional and continental development strategies. How can African leaders ensure that science and technology is prioritized as a necessary condition for Africa’s transformation?
Democratic Governance and Political Stability in Africa
In spite of the strong advocacy and comprehensive policy reforms towards establishing inclusive African democracies, several countries within the continent remain politically unstable, while much more are on the brink of social disintegration. In fact, the progress made by many African countries in deepening democratic governance has been halted by pervasive ethnic and sectarian divisions, political strife arising from economic inequality, serious abuse of political power by elected officials, poor functioning of legislative and judicial institutions, as well as negative media practices. How can African leaders develop new models and approaches to governance that are informed by the lessons of past mistakes, and implement democratic systems based on accountability, transparency, and unique African values?
The African Economic Paradox –“The Resource Curse”
Africa’s growth performance is one of the highest among today’s emerging economic regions, primarily as a result of its considerable natural resource wealth, and the “commodity boom” from which Africa has derived significant benefit. However, this positive growth trajectory has not necessarily translated into ‘real’ economic development and prosperity on the continent. In fact, a large number of African economies have been described as suffering from the ‘resource curse’, a phenomenon where countries and regions with an abundance of natural resources, tend to have less economic growth and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources. In Africa, the incidence of this paradox is underscored by the fact that economic development in most countries is characterized by jobless growth, macroeconomic instability, an overdependence on development aid, unsustainable debt levels and lack of structural transformation. How can African countries develop and implement new economic models to unlock this economic paradox?
Bridging the Infrastructure Gap in Africa
Africa’s severe lack of infrastructure, particularly in critical areas such as transportation, energy, and ICT, has been cited as a major reason for the economic underdevelopment of the continent. The pervasive poor infrastructure is said to cost Africa approximately 2 percentage points of GDP growth per year. It is thus evident that the ability of African countries to close this infrastructure gap will be crucial in guaranteeing the region’s economic development and competitiveness in the global economy. Africa’s infrastructure deficit has been attributed to lack of coherent policy frameworks for infrastructure development, poor financing mechanisms, weak project and contract management, underpricing and overpricing of services as well as poor maintenance regimes. How can African countries address the infrastructural challenges that constrain development across the continent and limit the potential for regional economic cooperation?
Social Service Delivery in Africa
In spite of the laudable economic and political reforms that African countries have implemented in the past decade, the general standard of living remains alarmingly low across the continent. Currently, Sub- Saharan Africa has the lowest H.D.I. (Human Development Index) among global macro- regions and regrettably, this has been the trend in the past decade. It is evident therefore that the economic and political reforms in African countries have not been accompanied by a strong commitment to inclusive and sustainable social service delivery, especially in the areas of Health, Education, and Affordable Housing. What are the short to long-term measures that can be taken to ensure that the welfare of African citizens is comprehensively and sustainably catered for?