President Muhammadu Buhari has called on African leaders to tailor their educational system and academic curricular towards Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), for a drive to full industrialization by the year 2030.
In his National Statement today, November 25, in Niamey, the capital of Niger Republic, at the AU Summit on Industrialisation and Economic Diversification in Africa, the President emphasised that STEM is the ”short way” to produce the next generation of managers of an industrialised Africa not dependent on expatriates.
He advised leaders in the continent to solve the problem of generating cheap and clean energy, saying: ”it is no secret that we cannot industrialize the continent, if we do not solve the problem of generating cheap and clean energy.
”Your Excellencies, energy generation and distribution is an enabler for industrialization. Africa is richly endowed with multiple sources of energy generation. We are richly endowed with Hydro-Carbons, Coal, Natural Gas, Solar Energy, and Hydro- Energy.
”Yet we are lacking in the capacity to produce clean and cheap electricity to power our production, manufacturing sectors.
”I hope this Summit will afford us the opportunity to explore the possibilities of collaboration in pooling resources on a continental level to address the vexing problem of Energy generation and distribution on the continent.
”I say this because, it is no secret that we cannot industrialize the continent, if we do not solve the problem of generating cheap and clean energy.
”Your Excellencies, the African Continent is blessed with a large Youth population that can address our labour shortages. Therefore, we should tap this human resource potential that abound in the continent by providing our youths with qualitative and fit for purpose education that recognizes the labour market demands.
”In this regard, we must rejig our educational system and academic curricula to gravitate towards Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This is the short way we can produce the next generation of managers for the industrial complex we envisage, one that will not be dependent on expatriates.”
President Buhari also told the AU summit that the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement will give impetus to the continent’s quest for an industrial revolution.
He expressed the belief that the outcome of the Summit would launch the African continent on the path to poverty eradication, food security and technological advancement, issues not far from the goals set out in the AU Agenda 2063 and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
He commended the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), for the mileage they have achieved through inclusive and sustainable industrial development plans for developing countries, providing the framework for implementing decisions of the UN and supporting the AU in several initiatives for growth and sustainable development.
He noted that these collaborative efforts have the capacity to ensure an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.
The Nigerian leader told African leaders that industrialization and diversification of economies remain the keys and engine to unlock economic growth and build a prosperous continent.
”They are the solution to the socio- economic challenges that have bedevilled Africa, particularly those worsened by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russia- Ukraine war, as well as the effects of Climate Change, Terrorism and Banditry.
”Chairperson, let me call on all African leaders, our Development Partners and the Organized Private Sector to team up and fashion a collaboration that will ultimately lead Africa to achieve full industrialization by the year 2030.
”We can do this by simply taking advantage of our rich endowments in natural resources. Nigeria is committed to advancing the accelerated implementation of the African Union Programme for Infrastructure Development, as a vehicle to deliver industrialization.”
According to President Buhari, Nigeria has continued to diversify its economy, shifting from the traditional oil-based economy to a multi-sectoral economy.
He said the country is investing heavily in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises supporting small business and start-ups in innovation and Hi-Tech as well as IT.
On health issues, the President acknowledged that one of the lessons learnt from the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Africa as well as Nigeria was the lack of preparedness to respond to such outbreaks and shocks.
He, however, expressed delight that in the wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Nigeria along with five other African Countries were selected as vaccine hubs for the local production of mRNA Vaccines by the World Health Organisation, and to receive the technology needed to produce Vaccines.
He said Nigeria is exploring bilateral, multilateral and other opportunities to acquire the necessary technology needed to create a centre of excellence for Vaccine manufacturing and distribution in the country.
“As the mRNA technology permits science to shift attention to yet unknown disease threats, we see this as an opportunity to address diseases that have plagued our continent, especially sub-Saharan Africa and the third world countries.
“We see this as an opportunity to find lasting solutions to diseases such as Ebola, Malaria, Lassa Fever and other endemic tropical diseases through the manufacture of affordable Vaccines and therapeutics.”
President Buhari restated his call on partners to consider working with Nigeria on the entire value chain of vaccine technology development in the continent.
The Nigerian leader used the occasion to welcome the G20 Debt Treatment and the Implementation of IMF Special Drawing Rights in favour of African Countries, calling for the effective implementation of all agreed measures and proposed initiatives to address Africa’s financial needs.
“Africa needs more Foreign Direct Investments in Science, Technology and Innovation to drive Industrialization on the Continent not forgetting our long-standing need for better Tenors of Trade with developing countries.”