The theme for the United Nations Annual Ministerial Review (Segment) segment this year will focus on on the theme Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The HLS will be held on 1 – 4 July 2013 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The Association of African Entrepreneurs (AAE) placed a call to its clients and stakeholders for submissions on the ECOSOC HLS Annual Ministerial Review theme via its newsletter, social media and forums.

From Babagana Abubakar in Nigeria, the AAE received feedback concerning astronomy and meteorology. Many components (the stars, moon, lightning and thunder, for example) are viewed as sacred or as gods by approximately 25% of the African population, and therefore not science-based. As well, the use of these components in astrology and fortune-telling also deter both Muslims and Christians from studying space sciences and meteorology. These views and beliefs have lead to the underdevelopment of these sciences across the continent.

This paper suggests four key solutions:
-Major stakeholders such as UNOOSA and NASA, among others, should sponsor public conferences, workshops and programs.
-Religious scholars should be included in capacity-building programs and training
-NASA and other space science organizations should open offices and training institutes in Africa
-International space organizations should provide financial scholarships

David Rugamba Muhizi from Rwanda focused on “broadband for an inclusive digital society”. He identified specific examples of progress being made in this area. Specifically, information and communication technologies have lead to e-health solutions such as Onehealth, which has seen incredible increases in both quality and access to healthcare. Improvements in maternal health have been noted as a result of these technologies.

In order to promote gender equality and empower women, programs such as the AAE’s E-Coaching Centre in Ghana, are helping women and young entrepreneurs access relevant support to start their businesses. This is another example of how technology and innovation are being used to facilitate access to learning, thereby helping women and youth in the community become more prosperous, and therefore healthier and more educated.

Two other submissions from the AAE contained several interesting, broad ways that science, innovation, technology and the potential of culture promote sustainable development and help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

For instance, technology, innovation and a shift in cultural beliefs are key to addressing the achievement of universal primary education for Africans. Apart from increasing the number of computers in schools and connecting rural areas to internet access, further sponsorship from science and technology institutions will continue to ensure this fundamental goal is reached, as well as lead young people to science-based careers and open science-based businesses.

As well, agriculturalists and their research and development teams can propel communities forward with long-lasting ideas, thus contributing to the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. Many communities must utilize innovative agriculture methods to take advantage of the Africa’s vast resources.

Science, technology and innovation, however, should not be seen as a means to an end – these components supplement Africa’s two greatest resources – the people and the land. Keeping the unique cultures across the continent in mind, as well as the immense value and importance of sustainable development, is key to achieving the MDGs and therefore key to Africa’s future generations.

About Author: AAE Team