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Experts validate proposed Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Training Framework for SADC

SADC experts and representatives from the Member States provided inputs and validated the Draft Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Training Framework, during the recently held virtual workshop. The workshop brought together over 50 participants from SADC Member states and other partners such as the African Union Commission (AUC), African Union Development Agency - NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD), UNESCO, UNCTAD, UN Interagency Task Team on STI for the SDGs (IATT) and the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC). 

Partners generally agreed and emphasized the importance of capacity building on STI Policy towards economic planning, addressing global challenges and the achievement of Agenda 2030. They noted that there is need to increase investments in STI polices, sharing of best practices and information on the continent. 

During the workshop, a brainstorming session was held to source inputs from Member States on the challenges experienced in implementing their STI Policies and on STI Policy training needs. Other member states such as Botswana, South Africa, Seychelles, Zambia and Zimbabwe also shared their experiences, best practices and lessons learnt in implementing STI policies. These could also be used to provide a regional perspective for the case studies of the training framework. 

The validated training framework will be refined and presented for adoption at the 2021 SADC Ministerial Meeting in June, before it is launched on the UNESCO Online platform (https://openlearning.unesco.org) in July.

The SADC Secretariat, Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) South Africa, and other experts joined UNESCO in developing the draft SADC STI training framework following a recommendation made at 2019 SADC Ministerial meeting held in Namibia. 

Science Technology and Innovation has been recognized globally as an engine for socio-economic development, and essential to drive the SDGs and the AU Agenda 2063. The SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP2020-2030), seeks to achieve an industrialised regional economy that is based on a competitive and conductive environment, which includes infrastructure and skills, and sustainably exploits its natural resources by leveraging science, technology, and innovation. This aspiration can only be met by the development of appropriate legal frameworks, policy instruments and governing bodies for the effective implementation of national STI policies in Africa. This calls for capacity building for those who are engaged in STI policy design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. 

The training programme is thus designed to impart awareness and an understanding of a comprehensive approach to STI planning grounded in an integrated political economy approach to development planning.  This approach erodes the sharp dividing lines between policy domains, which tend to be all too common a constraint on effective STI policy design and implementation.  

UNESCO Regional Director for Southern Africa, Prof. Hubert Gijzen said the development of the regional training programme on science, technology and innovation policy and governance is a step towards the realization of the much-needed transformational change in SADC.