AFRICAN GROWTH IS EMBEDDED IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND ENGINEERING.

Geoffrey Ndege, Nairobi-Kenya; ndegegeoffrey@gmail.com

I often ask myself about the future of science by virtue of me being an industrial chemist. Chemistry is a science like biology and physics from which has developed a myriad of disciplines that have greatly helped other countries develop. Biotechnology industries have evolved greatly over time and are earning developed countries a fortune. Beer industry is one among the greatest industries that have potentially been molded to maximize operations for a maximum yield. Saccharomyces cerevisiae that is used as an enzyme in beer production is a product of biotechnology. Pharmaceutical industry has also helped many governments plough in lots of foreign exchange from trading in such lines of business. Beside the two are such industries as chemical, oil, polymer among others.
I came across a document of the Australian government on the countries’ future in terms of international growth and competitiveness. They listed over 90% emphasis on STEM as the main stem for achieving their aspirations. Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), they identified, is the backbone of EU countries’ development and other highly developed economies. Not to be left behind, Australia, saw the need to change their tactic to be at bar with other leading economies in the world.
Does it mean that Africa is completely blind to these thematic areas? Obviously the answer is no. Some African countries have made appreciable steps towards becoming globally competitive economies through investment in industries and engineering projects. Africa has to be versatile in terms of academic investments in science technology engineering and we can incorporate mathematics also. Why mathematics? Fortunately I have been to several of my chemistry classes and I understand that mathematics is a crucial subject for anybody ready to achieve excellence in the science courses needless to say engineering. Industries that have been developed here in Africa are small and mostly not diversified. We do more of the consumer goods and neglect other crucial items like drugs (pharmaceuticals), chemicals and specialty products; the very things we need most.
Engineering is another crucial discipline that is required for a country on the verge of transition. The beauty of this engineering is its ability to design, transform and develop systems that greatly advance the human life. Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Mechatronic and Chemical engineering are greatly being used to turn third world countries to first world countries. Sky scrapers, modern efficient cars, airplanes, industrial processing machines which are products of engineering have been used to make life good. Africa has been using such machinery from other continents and her countries are not doing so well in developing her own such machinery. Many years have gone since most countries gained their independence and little progress has been made over the years to make the countries self sustaining in terms of modern machinery.
The most important part that Africa has not done much is research. Research ranges from private research to public, simple to extensive. Most African countries have not been allocating enough resources to help drive research to higher levels in the recent time, neither had they allocated in the past. Most developed countries have allocated research more resources and are always working on their curriculum to keep them up to date with the country goals and future achievement. With high corruptions cases, poor governance and lack of emphasis on STEM in most African countries, the continent will wait longer in order to achieve her dream. All is not gone yet, with proper decision making and strategy formulation mechanisms and a lot of emphasis on STEM, we can compete favorably with other leading economies.
“There will be significant emphasis in boosting our focus on science, technology, engineering and math because science is at the heart of a country’s competitiveness and it is important that we do not neglect science as we look at the general educational and training schemes.” Tony Abbott, prime minister of Australia (June 2014)
Our curriculum should be developed to enhance innovation and creativity among students and the young people should be encouraged to venture into sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. Next, we should teach them entrepreneurship education so that they can develop new innovations and build such modern and efficient industries out of them. Above all, we should assign enough financial and physical resources to research and development departments in institutions of higher learning and in manufacturing industries. African growth is certainly embedded in STEM.
Copyright@2015 Geoffrey Ndege.

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Politics, Policy, Technology, Current Affairs, Opinion, Agriculture, Energy, Education, Entrepreneurship, Governance, International Emerging Issues, Society, and culture. For featuring, promotions or support write to us at ndegegeoffrey@gmail.com

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