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Finance minister says challenges of knowledge gap enormous

The Minister of Finance, Dr Mansur Muhtar, has said that the challenges faced by Africa in terms of skills and knowledge gap are enormous. The minister spoke at the launch of the AfDB $15 million support for the Network of African Institutions of Science and Technology (AUST), the International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering and ECOWAS.

Muhtar explained that in the area of global competitiveness, the continent could hardly make progress without addressing such deficiency. The challenges  we face as Africans, in terms of skills and knowledge gap, compared with other continents, is enormous. We cannot move forward without making progress in the area of science and Technology,’’ he said.

Muhtar, who noted that the support initiative was timely, commended the interest and pivotal role of the AfDB and ECOWAS in pushing forward the agenda to develop science and technology in Africa.

“In spite of the major political challenges the region is facing, it has remained focused in this aspect of regional integration,” he said.  Muhtar expressed the hope that the initiative would further foster the reintegration process in the region.

Also, ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Gender, Ms Adrienne Diop, said the support would meet regional needs for highly qualified staff in science and engineering.

“This will improve and increase the number and quality of graduates in science and technology,” she said. Diop explained that ECOWAS was currently working on its science and technology policy, adding that science and technology remained essential in regional integration. Earlier, the representative of the AfDB, Mr Peter Sturmber, said Africa’s ability to participate competitively in global knowledge-based economy would be circumscribed without critical mass of scientists and technologists, including women.


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