White Paper: Harnessing Innovation and Emerging Technologies to Address the Impact of COVID-19 in Africa
The first Specialized Technical Committee on Education, Science and Technology (STC-ESTI) requested the AU Commission and AUDA-NEPAD to advise Member States and RECs on matters of technology prospecting, including regulatory and ethical requirements that need to be put in place in order for the continent to benefit from emerging technologies. The Ministers further directed the then NEPAD Agency to establish a system for obtaining expert contribution on the matters of technology development, acquisition, and deployment for socio-economic development.
In order to achieve the above objective, in December 2016, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, appointed ten (10) eminent experts from various fields to serve on the African Union High Level African Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET). The High Level Panel has been constituted in recognition of the need to harness both existing and emerging innovations and technologies for the economic development of Africa. The appointed eminent experts are drawn from diverse professional backgrounds and are critical in terms of providing evidence-based analyses and recommendations that should inform policy direction at the continental, regional and national levels on the utilization of existing and emerging innovations and technologies.
With the passing of Prof. Calestous Juma, the High Level Panel currently consists of nine (9) leading experts representing both gender and geographical demographics, and is chaired by Prof. Yaye Kène-Gassama Dia, Professor in Plant Biotechnology at the University Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar and Vice-Chair of the board of the National Academy of Science and Technology of Senegal and Chair of the basic, applied sciences and innovation section. She is a former minister of Science and Technology of Senegal, and acting on behalf of the Senegal Government, as chair of AMCOST II (African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology). Other members of the panel include: Prof. Roseanne Diab, Director, Gender INSITE, former Executive Officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and Emeritus Professor in the School of Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal; Professor Berhanu Abegaz, former Executive Director of the African Academy of Sciences; Professor Francine Ntoumi, Director of the Foundation Congolaise pour la Recherche Médicale and Senior Lecturer at University M. Ngouabi, Congo-Brazzaville; and Professor Abdallah Daar, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Public Health and Global Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto with a cross-appointment in the Department of Surgery.
The other members are Professor O. Ibidapo-Obe, a distinguished Professor of Systems Engineering and former Vice-Chancellor (2000-2007) at the University of Lagos and the pioneering Vice-Chancellor at the Federal University Ndufu Alike Ikwo (FUNAI) Ebonyi State, Nigeria (2011-2016); Dr. Rachel Chikwamba, CSIR Group Executive: Strategic Alliances and Communication and manager of the CSIR’s high-level partnerships and stakeholder interactions and associated communication; Prof. Dr. Shireen Assem, Vice-President for Research at the Agricultural Research Center (ARC) in Egypt of Egypt; and Prof. Karim Maredia, Professor and Director of the World Technology Access (WorldTAP) Program in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.
Apart from offering advice to the AU and its Member States on harnessing innovations and emerging technologies for economic development, the High Level also makes recommendations on the nature of regional institutional arrangements that are required to promote and sustain common regulatory approaches to the application of, and proposes strategies and policies on innovations and emerging technologies in Africa.