President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has accused African governments and large firms of assuming that technical expertise is not available in Africa, choosing instead to support foreign providers and preventing the growth of local talent to compete professionally.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Global Gathering 2018 hosted in Kigali this week, the President said there needs to be a conscious effort to actively seek and support African tech experts.
“Governments are as guilty as big companies in this regard. We keep going back to the same external suppliers for solutions, without making every effort to procure the services here. It doesn’t make sense. Let’s use the resources we have to give these talented African specialists the chance to grow and compete professionally,” said Kagame.
While admitting that seeking local tech professionals may incur additional costs, he noted that it is only in the short term.
“It will not only build our institutions, but increase our capacity for international collaboration as well.”
Kagame also called for greater cooperation among Africa’s scientific researchers.
“We do not aim to create an autonomous African science that operates in isolation. That would defeat the purpose. We are working to fully connect Africa to the global networks that have been so productive. This builds on the positive mood on our continent about the prospects for practical pan-African collaboration.”
The president warned that the gender gap that exists in Africa’s science and tech landscape needed to be addressed, but added that the issue is not peculiar to the continent. “We cannot afford to leave our women and girls out of the equation. The gender gap in science is a global phenomenon, but that is no reason to accept it as inevitable. Whatever the causes may be, we have to dedicate ourselves to closing the gap, because opportunity will never be equal without equal access to knowledge.”