‘Together for strengthening the insertion of science, technology and innovation in the country development strategy’ was the motto of the 4th National Conference on Science and Technology in Angola. The conference is a bi-annual event to encourage the presentation and discussion of scientific works among the Angolan community. The conference assessed the successful experiences of other countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Spain, USA, France, Mozambique, Portugal and Zimbabwe.
The event took place simultaneously with the Seventh Fair of Inventors and Creators of Angola (FEICA 2015), the International Fair of Ideas, Inventions and Products Valorisation, and the Science and Technology Fair.
About 300 people attended and included government officials, national and foreign experts, representatives of the United Nations and European Union, teachers, students and potential investors.
Among them was Mr Getachew Engida, the UNESCO Deputy Director-General, who gave a keynote on the Sustainable Development Goals. These goals are universal and will be applied to the North and the South. One of the driving forces behind them is the imperative of the need to act on climate change understanding that we cannot continue to consume energy in the manner that we currently do.
Science, technology, innovation and health
Science, technology and innovation – including information and communication technology – will be central to the achievement of all of the seventeen goals. There is a need to ensure that the benefits of science, technology and innovation are spread throughout society.
The diseases which are a priority in the Africa region – such as Neglected Tropical Diseases, malaria and TB – haven’t been appropriately tackled by research. One of the reasons for this is that they have never impacted significantly on high-income countries. The capacity of people affected by diseases of poverty to pay for prevention and treatment is often constrained by poverty. As a result they do not receive adequate private sector investment.
Yet it is clear that this is a situation that could change. The rush to develop an Ebola vaccine when it became clear that the outbreaks could effect rich Northern countries is testament to this. Previous outbreaks were relatively localised and did not attract the interest and investment that we have seen in West Africa. Although the effects of the outbreak were equally devastating for those who were impacted.
Growing local capacity for science technology and innovation
At the conference I had the opportunity to present a poster presentation on the on-going work from my PhD on the mapping of Neglected Tropical Diseases using RAPLOA and REMO in Bengo province, Angola.
I was one of many national scientists who are working to increase local capacity through research that focuses on Angola’s development priorities. For science, technology and innovation to benefit those most in need we must reorientate investment and capacity to those researchers and scientists who are able to reflect the needs of their nations in the issues that they focus on and the potential beneficiaries of their scientific discoveries.