Strategies for Adopting Emerging Technologies in Africa

Moderator: Prof Aggrey Ambali
Coordinator: Dr Rachel Chikwamba
Panel Chair: Prof Gassama Yaye Kene
Presenter: Barbara Glover
Presenter: Prof Berhanu Abegaz
Presenter: Prof Roseanne Diab
Presenter: Prof Shireen Assem

Barbara Glover

Barbara Glover works as a as a Research Fellow under the Science, Technology, Innovation ‎and Industrialisation Hub of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency of the African Union. ‎She works under the Prospecting Technologies unit in aiding African countries identify ‎emerging technologies worth harnessing in Africa. She is a PhD candidate in Veterinary Tropical Diseases at the University of Pretoria and an Erasmus fellow.  She chaired a session on youth and artificial intelligence at SFSA 2017 which brought together panellists all over Africa and the US to speak on “An Africa we want: The future decides today”. This session addressed the need for harnessing emerging technologies and explored artificial intelligence and robotics, whilst opening up discussions on useful ‎platforms for discussions of this nature and potential economic benefits of these technologies; ‎as a way forward. ‎ She was also instrumental in organising the first of over 35 African nations representing Africa at the ‎FIRST Global world robotics Olympics in Washington DC for which she received the Amelia Earhart silver medal for international collaboration and support.  She is the co-founder of an NGO called SISTAZSHARE which is involved in online training of women and the building of social entrepreneurship skills.

Dr Rachel Chikwamba

Dr Rachel Chikwamba is the executive responsible for industrial development strategy at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa.  To this end, she has been focusing on integrating emerging, notably Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies into the CSIR’s strategies for supporting South Africa’s economic competitiveness through innovation.  The initiative seeks to amplify the role of innovation in improving the performance of industries, ultimately accelerating inclusive, sustainable economic growth and development. Prior to that, she Group Executive/Vice President responsible for Strategic Alliances and Communication, where she championed organisational alliances with local and global partners in the public and private sectors in order to advance knowledge and to address challenges of socioeconomic and industrial development through science, technology and innovation.  Beginning as a researcher, her technical experience spans the life sciences across many disciplines, notably agriculture, health and nutrition and biomedical sectors. In her organisational roles and assignments, she has gained sound understanding of science and technology application in a variety of other sectors aligned with the CSIR business, which include infrastructure, logistics, aerospace and defence, manufacturing and ICT.  Rachel sits on boards of various organisations and is a member African Union Panel on Emerging Technologies.

Prof Aggrey Ambali

Aggrey Ambaliis currently serving as Head of Industrialization, Science, Technology and Innovation at the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency, where he oversees development and implementation of programs in industrialization, education, health, and science and technology. He has also served in other positions at the NEPAD Agencyincluding Director of Policy Alignment and Programme Development; Advisor on science and technology and Coordinator of the African Biosciences Initiative (ABI). He served as a member of the secretariat for the African Union High Level Panel on Modern Biotechnology 2005-2007. From 2012 to 2014, he coordinated a team that supported the work of the African Union High Level Panel on Science, Technology and Innovation which prepared a ten year Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa, (STISA 2024). Aggrey Ambali is currently coordinating an African Union High Level Panel on Emerging Technologies for Africa’s development. He is a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences. He is also a member of the governing council of the United Nations Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries and Small Island States. Prior to joining the NEPAD Agency, he served as Professor of Biology at the University of Malawi.

Prof Berhanu Abegaz

Prof. Berhanu Abegaz is a chemist by profession with long years of experience in teaching, research, ST&I, policy and Executive leadership.  He is currently a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of Chemistry of the University of Johannesburg, and a Fellow of the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study, Stellenbosch, South Africa.  He is also working closely with the Au HRST in developing a strategic plan for the pan African University.  He is also a member of the African Union High Level Panel on Emerging Technologies.   He is the immediate past Executive Director of the African Academy of Sciences. He has led the efforts within the Academy in increasing the Fellowship, women Fellows, think-tank and advisory services, and creation of the Agenda-setting and funding platform known as Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA). Abegaz has a rich teaching and research experience in several universities in Africa, Europe and the United States.  He is widely known for promoting South-South cooperation in research and postgraduate education.  Abegaz has served in many organizations such as the UNESCO, ICSU, IOCD and IFS. He has won several prizes and awards and is an elected fellow of the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences (EAS).

Prof Gassama Yaye Kene

Professor GassamaYayeKeneis acting as Chair of AUC High level Panel on Emerging Technologies and vice chair of the National Science Academy of Senegal. She served as Ceo of National Agency for Scientific and Applied Research.   Prof. Gassama was previously Minister in charge of Science and technology of Senegal. Acting as chair of African Ministerial Conference of Science and Technology (AMCOST), she actively participated in the elaboration, endorsement and implementation of the African strategy of Consolidated Action Plan (CAP) in science and Technology (African Union). As national UNEP coordinator for biosafety, she provided support for the development of a legislative framework on biosafety for Senegal. She worked as consultant in biotechnology and biosafety for the West Africa region. She was the Chair of the conference on “Contribution of black people in science and technology » during World festival of black arts (FESMAN). Prof. Gassama has 30 years of training experience in plant biotechnology focusing on genetic improvement of indigenous species.

Prof Roseanne Diab

Roseanne Diab is Executive Officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and Emeritus Professor in Environmental Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She is a Fellow of the university, the South African Geographical Society, The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and a Member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). Her research interests are in Atmospheric Science, with a focus on climate change and air quality. She has over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals and has supervised approximately 50 PhD and Masters’ students. Prof Diab has served on numerous international committees such as the International Ozone Commission (IOC), the Commission on Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Pollution (CACGP) and the SPARC (Stratospheric Processes and their Role in Climate) Steering Group. She currently serves on the African Union High-level Panel on Emerging Technologies. She is active in the Organisation for Women Scientists in the Developing World (OWSD) and serves on the Gender Advisory Board to TWAS

Prof Shireen Assem

Shireen Assem is a Professor of Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. She is currently serving as The Vice President –for Research- at the Agricultural Research Center (ARC) in Egypt since June, 2018. She has also served in other positions at the ARC including the Director of The Agricultural Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Research Institute (AGERI), from 2014 to 2018; the Deputy Director for Training and Extension at AGERI from 2010 to 2014 and Head of Department of Plant Molecular Biology at AGERI from 2007 to 2010. She has been awarded a Fulbright Post Doc fellowship in 2002 to 2003 at The University of Central Florida, USA. She is currently a member of the African Union High Level Panel on Emerging Technologies for Africa’s development. Moreover, she served as a member of the National Biosafety Committee in Egypt. Dr.Assem participated in several basic and applied scientific research projects as the Principal Investigator on the national and the international levels for the development of improved plant varieties for Egypt and other developing countries tolerant to different biotic and abiotic stresses to cope with the climatic changes and satisfy human needs with population growth.

The Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA 2024) was adopted in 2014, based on progress made on the Consolidated Plan of Action for Science and Technology in Africa and in line with goals of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

In support of these initiatives, the AU Commission appointed a ten-member African Union High-Level Panel on Emerging Technologies to advise the Union, its various organs, and Member States on how Africa should harness emerging technologies for economic development.   The Panel has reviewed a number of emerging technologies on the basis of the enormity and urgency of problems to be solved, potential risks and benefits (regulatory and ethical), relevance, maturity and, finally, available African competences and skills.  The first round of ten priority technologies has emerged, and these include gene drive/gene editing, micro-grids, drones, precision agriculture, water purification, 3-D printing, next-generation medicines, next-generation batteries, synthetic biology and artificial intelligence.

To date, three of these technologies have been processed, namely application of gene drive for the control and elimination of the malaria disease vector, application of drone technology for transforming Africa’s agriculture and promoting micro-grids for expanding Africa’s access to energy.   The panellists will engage the audience on the strategies for adoption of these technologies for Africa’s socioeconomic transformation.