Achieving economic growth and sustainable investment has been the preoccupation of Africa in the 21st Century. Africa is closely watched by the rest of the world such as China, Europe and America as the largest growth market and potentially the next emerging economic power, and this has been stimulated and rationalized as Africa is home to the world’s youngest population; large market with huge spectrum of demands; fastest urbanizing continent; abundant natural resources among others. As of today, Africa with a population of 17% of the world, has an annual GDP growth with an average of 4% since 2010, which is higher than the world average. This GDP growth in one way or the other is reflected positively on the livelihood of the African populace, where the poverty rate in Africa declined from 54% in 1990 to 41% in 2015 “about 400 million people were out of poverty in 2015”. The forecast is that if the GDP grows at the same rate till 2030, the poverty rate will decline to 23%.
Recent reports and publications on the world’s largest economies forms and entities revealed that by 2025, African business opportunities is predicted to be $5.6 trillion in 2025. These business opportunities are in agriculture, infrastructure, and natural resources among others. These opportunities are galvanized by the fact that: in agriculture, Africa’s uncultivated arable land is 60% and the agricultural productivity of used land has the potential to produce 2-3 times more; in infrastructure, Africa needs annually at least $46 billion for its energy, water and transport network upgrade, and this can also be added to the Programme on Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) priority action plan annual estimated cost which stands at 7.5$ billion/year; and in the natural resource sector, Africa’s abundant natural resources accounts for 10% of the world’s oil reserves, 40% of its gold, 80% of platinum among other commodities. In addition, there are more opportunities to be considered in the tech-service sector and the consumption sector among others.
On the other hand, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) was launched to bid for Africa’s intra-trade and it presents an opportunity for African products to have a cooperative advantage and leverage in African markets, recalling that there is a major increase in consumption, where household consumption is expected to grow to be $2.1 trillion by 2025 while business spending is to be $3.5 trillion.
For Africa to become the next emerging economic power, there must be investment in Science, Technology and Innovation as mentioned in notable global policy guidelines and documents like the SDGs, AU Agenda 2063 and its sectorial Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA-2024). These investments should address all the requisite four pillars of STISA-2024: building infrastructure; enhancing technical and professional competencies; innovation and entrepreneurship; and enabling environment.
It is also imperative that African Scientists and ASRIC Scientific Committee direct their research work and innovations to address the priority areas under STISA-2024 priority areas which are: Eradication of hunger and achieving food security; Prevention and control of diseases; Communication (Physical & Intellectual Mobility; Protection of our space; Live together – build the society; and Wealth creation and to focus their research and innovation more on addressing market and consumption demands. Moreover, African Governments and policy makers need to realize that funding science requires time and accepting that quality investment in STI takes years to benefit from the initial investment; however, failure to invest in science makes it harder to develop indigenous sustainable solutions to our problems as such they are encourage to upsurges their investment to achieve the predefined target 1% GDP immediately, for Africa to be the next emerging economic power.
Against this background, the 4th Congress of the African Scientific Research and Innovation Council (ASRIC) is designed with the theme: