West Africa is known for its diversity: from the island nation of Cape Verde deep in the Atlantic, to the regional giant of Nigeria. One might expect a region of barriers, at least in terms of language and logistics. Yet our latest ‘DEIP’ workshop demonstrated clear and consistent engagement among a dozen West African nations — testament to regional partnerships built up in recent years at government and senior policy officer levels.
Policy Brief now available to download here (May 2018).
‘DEIP Africa II’ was held in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire, from 25-29 September 2017 — the second in a series of workshops co-hosted by UNU-MERIT and the African Observatory of Science, Technology and Innovation (AOSTI). The first event, held in Nairobi in October 2014, targeted members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); so this workshop focused on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The event was held at the Ivorian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and opened by Ms. Tahiri Annick Yamousso, representative of the Ministry and Director of Valorisation of Research and Technological Innovation. Overall, the workshop featured delegates from 12 (out of 15) ECOWAS states: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo; (the missing countries being Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone).
According to a recent report by UNESCO, many of these states are aiming to become upper middle income countries by 2030. These plans are ambitious, given the many recent crises in the region: a civil war in Côte d’Ivoire in 2011; the Tuareg rebellion in Mali in 2012; a military coup in Guinea-Bissau in 2012; a popular revolt in Burkina Faso in 2014; the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone of 2014; the Boko Haram insurgency in Niger and Nigeria, particularly in 2015; and the constitutional crisis in the Gambia in 2016. Yet, in overcoming these crises, they have consolidated their development by reinforcing their regional partnerships.
ECOWAS set out its development plans in 2011 in a document entitled ‘Vision 2020’. This focuses among other things on the incorporation of modern technology in agriculture; improvements to social infrastructure such as water, sanitation and electricity; and speeding up the penetration of internet connectivity. These challenges directly or indirectly involve a strengthening of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy.
Moreover, these countries share many features in terms of economic structure. For example, they rely rather heavily on natural resource based activities, both in agricultural products as well as minerals; they are relatively small in size and so have limited market scalability (with the exception of Nigeria); and they have a large proportion of labour in agriculture or the informal sector.
DEIP Africa II was therefore well in line with the ECOWAS policy on Science and Technology known as ‘ECOPOST’, particularly in terms of monitoring progress. At the workshop, the country presentations demonstrated several common challenges: great diversity in level of progress in STI policy; ‘embryonic’ innovation policies for all countries and even science and technology policies for some countries; plus the absence of private sectors (i.e. very limited commercialisation of scientific research and an informal sector largely untouched by STI policies).
Finally, it is worth noting that ECOWAS is composed of countries with various historic influences, i.e. English, French and Portuguese. This made the logistics, including flight connections, a little challenging. Nonetheless, ECOWAS is quite active in implementing free mobility of people within the region, issuing a common ID and tax system to encourage integration. This bodes well for the future — not only for science, technology and innovation, but also for the region’s overall development.
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ECOWAS (2016), 2016 Annual Report of ECOWAS, Abuja: ECOWAS.
ECOWAS (2017a), 2016 ECOWAS Convergence Report, Abuja, ECOWAS.
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Table 1 references
GDP (billion PPP) and GDP per capita (PPP), constant 2011 international $. The growth rate corresponds to the annual percentage growth rate of GDP at market prices based on constant local currency. Data for 2016. Source: World Development Indicators (access 30/10/2017). Total population, million. Data for 2016. Source: World Development Indicators (access 30/10/2017). Median age of the total population, years. Estimates for 2015. Source: World Population Prospects (https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Download/Standard/Population/) (access 1/11/2017). Sector breakdown value added, % of GDP. Data for 2016. Source: World Development Indicators (access 30/10/2017). For Niger (2016): souce Programme de Développement Economique et Social (PDES) 2017-2021. Sector breakdown employment, % of total employment. Data availability varies across countries – the most recent statistic available is reported: Benin (2010), Cote d’Ivoire (2012), Gambia (2012), Ghana (2010), Liberia (2011), Nigeria (2010), Senegal (2011). Source: World Development Indicators (access 30/10/2017). Unemplyoment rate (following a standard ILO definition of unemployment, covering persons (aged 15–64) who during the reference period were currently available for work, actively seeking for work but were without work), % of total labour force. Data availability and sources vary across countries. For Benin, Guinee, Togo: data for 2016; souce: World Development Indicators (modeled ILO estimate) (access 30/10/2017). For Burkina Faso (2014), source: Plan national de développement économique et social 2016-2020 (PNDES). For Senegal (2011), source: Plan Sénégal Emergent (PSE) 2014-2018. For Cote d’Ivoire (2016), Gambia (2010), Liberia (2016), Mali (2016), Niger (2008), source: information provided by the participants to the DEIP workshop in Cote d’Ivoire (2017) through presentations and country spreadsheets. For Nigeria (2016 Q4): the definition of unemployment rate differs slighlty from the standard ILO, covering those who were actively looking for work but could not find work for at least 20 hours during the reference period.), source: National Bureau of Statistics, Unemployment / Under-employment Report (June 2017) (http://nigerianstat.gov.ng/). Employment in informal sector, % of total employment. Data availability and sources vary across countries. For Benin (2014), Ghana (2013), Liberia (2016), Mali (2000), Niger (2008), Nigeria (2015), source: information provided by the participants to the DEIP workshop in Cote d’Ivoire (2017) through presentations and country spreadsheets. For Senegal (2011), source: Plan Sénégal Emergent (PSE) 2014-2018. For Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinee: data for the period 2000-2010, source: Kramer-Mbula, Erika and Wunsch-Vincent, Sascha (2016), The Informal Economy in Developing Nations: Hidden Engine of Growth?, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. GDP in informal sector, % of total GDP and % of total GDP excluding agriculture. Data availability and sources vary across countries. For Benin (2012), Cote d’Ivoire (2016), Ghana (2013), Guinee (2016), Nigeria (2015), Mali (2000), source: information provided by the participants to the DEIP workshop in Cote d’Ivoire (2017) through presentations and country spreadsheets. For Senegal (2011), source: Plan Sénégal Emergent (PSE) 2014-2018. For Burkina Faso (2000), Niger (2009) and Togo (2000), source: Kramer-Mbula, Erika and Wunsch-Vincent, Sascha (2016), The Informal Economy in Developing Nations: Hidden Engine of Growth?, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gross expenditure in R&D (GERD), % of total GDP. Data availability and sources vary across countries. – the most recent statistic available is reported: Ghana (2010), Senegal (2010), Togo (2014). Souce: World Development Indicators (access 30/10/2017). For Benin (2016), Cote d’Ivoire (2016) and Niger (2013), source: information provided by the participants to the DEIP workshop in Cote d’Ivoire (2017) through presentations and country spreadsheets. For Burkina Faso (2009), Gambia (2011), Mali (2010) and Nigeria (2007), source: UNESCO (2015), UNESCO Science Report 2015 : Towards 2030, by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Paris: UNESCO Publishing (https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/usr15_west_africa.pdf).
Table 2 references
Information in this table was compiled from participant presentations during the DEIP workshop in Cote d’Ivoire (2017) and country spreadsheets provided by participants. The information was enriched using the following references: General references: UNESCO (2015), UNESCO Science Report 2015 : Towards 2030, by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Paris: UNESCO Publishing (https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/usr15_west_africa.pdf). NPCA (2014), Africa Innovation Outlook II, Pretoria: NPCA (www.nepad.org/sites/default/files/documents/files/2014_African_Innovation_Outlook.pdf) African Union Commission (2014), Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024, STISA-2024 (https://au.int/en/documents/29957/science-technology-and-innovation-strategy-africa-2024) African Union Commission (2015), Agenda 2063, The Africa We Want (https://au.int/en/agenda2063) ECOWAS Commission (2011), Politique Science Technologie at Innovation ECOPOST. Abuja, ECOWAS. Countries: Benin: Programme d’action du gouvernement (PAG) 2016-2021 (http://www.ccibenin.org/Documentations/45-projets-phares-pag-benin-revele-2016-2021.pdf.) and http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/science-technology/sti-policy/country-studies/benin/ Burkina Faso: Plan national de développement économique et social 2016-2020 (PNDES) (http://www.finances.gov.bf/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=302:plan-national-de-developpement-economique-et-social-pndes-2016-2021&catid=9&Itemid=371) and Stratégie Nationale de Valorisation des Technologies, des Inventions et des Innovations (2012) (http://www.mesrsi.gov.bf/) and http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/science-technology/sti-systems-and-governance/sti-policy-development/africa/burkina-faso/ Cote d’Ivoire: Etude Nationale Prospective Côte d’Ivoire 2040 (ENP – CI – 2040) (http://www.plan.gouv.ci/assets/fichier/SYNTHESE-ENP-CI-2040-Version-Finale-22-14032017-1-1-2-.pdf.) and http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/science-technology/sti-systems-and-governance/sti-policy-development/africa/cote-divoire/ Gambia: National development plan 2017-2020 (https://ims.undg.org/downloadFile/311784b443c0f89a3d3f77ec61f90c112bfd3361979a5ce32db47ce86166ad0a) and http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/science-technology/sti-systems-and-governance/sti-policy-development/africa/gambia/ Ghana: Long Term National Development Plan 2017-2057 (http://ndpc-cms.herokuapp.com/) and National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (2017 – 2020) (http://mesti.gov.gh/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Draft-National-STI-Policy-Document-10-July-2017.pdf). Guinee: Plan National de Developpement Economique et Social 2016-2020 (http://www.gouvernement.gov.gn/index.php/plan-national-de-developpement-economique-et-social-2016-2020) Liberia: National Vision: Liberia Rising 2030 (https://governancecommissionlr.org/doc_download/VISION%202030%20%20%20summary%20for%20the%20conference%20(25%20pgs)%20for%20GC%20%20Website.pdf?a4705305cd27e04fb1f66830e7e0ef9d=NjQ%3D) Mali: Cadre Stratégique pour la Relance Economique et le Développement Durable (CREDD) 2016-2018 (www.maliapd.org/Fatou/CREDD%202016-2018.pdf) Niger: Programme de Développement Economique et Social (PDES) 2017-2021 (www.ne.undp.org/content/dam/niger/docs/UNDP-NE-PDES%202017-2021.pdf) and http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/science-technology/sti-systems-and-governance/sti-policy-development/africa/niger/ Nigeria: Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) (2017 – 2020) (http://www.acioe.com/2017/11/15/nigeria-economic-recovery-growth-plan-2017-2020-overview/) and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2012 (2011) (https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=2ahUKEwiIrvv0woPbAhVEY1AKHSgpCp8QFjAAegQIABAs&url=http%3A%2F%2Fworkspace.unpan.org%2Fsites%2Finternet%2FDocuments%2FUNPAN048879.pdf&usg=AOvVaw3tzFUcpr21rSs0R6KoVUWK) Senegal: Plan Sénégal Emergent (PSE) 2014-2018 (https://www.sec.gouv.sn/dossiers/plan-s%C3%A9n%C3%A9gal-emergent-pse) and http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/science-technology/sti-systems-and-governance/sti-policy-development/africa/senegal/ Togo: Strategie de croissance acceleree et de promotion de l’emploi (SCAPE) 2013-2017 (https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiZoKz3w4PbAhUSL1AKHeYBCBwQFjAAegQIABAs&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ilo.org%2Fdyn%2Fnatlex%2Fdocs%2FELECTRONIC%2F95034%2F111729%2FF-973837252%2FTGO-95034.pdf&usg=AOvVaw1SXVVzK26dG0LzHbtCeRyg) and http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/science-technology/sti-systems-and-governance/sti-policy-development/africa/togo/
The opinions expressed here are the author’s own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.
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