AU agency, university, CSIR unveil incubation centre

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The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), together with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Stellenbosch University (SU), has launched a centre of excellence to incubate African innovations.

The AUDA-NEPAD centre of excellence in science, technology and innovation (AUDA-NEPAD CoE-STI) will upscale and commercialise home-grown innovations on the continent and is one of five centres of excellence backed by the AU as part of the group’s Agenda 2063 project.

For the partners of the project, the AUDA-NEPAD CoE-STI will also serve as catalyst for enhanced and deepened intra-African cooperation, responding to the challenges presented by COVID-19.

In a statement, the group says over 40 home-grown innovations have already been identified and are coming out of long-running programmes in SU and CSIR, and represent widely tested and proven technologies or practices ready for upscaling and commercialisation across the continent.

The innovations cover a wide spectrum of solutions in areas such as health, renewable energy, agriculture, water and sanitation to support countries in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the statement.

Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of AUDA-NEPAD, comments: “The COVID-19 crisis has shown that science, technology and innovation play a vital role in fighting the devasting impact of the pandemic. The continent needs to look inwards to develop, strengthen and upscale innovations that could help fight the pandemic and build greater resilience in the post-COVID-19 era.

“Through the CoE-STI partnership with CSIR and SU, AUDA-NEPAD is proud to act as a channel to connect African innovators to governments and clients to rollout and localise these home-grown solutions. The AUDA-NEPAD centres of excellence will bring innovative and agile solutions to scale in critical sectors affected by the pandemic.”

Similarly, Dr Thulani Dlamini, CSIR CEO, says: “The establishment of this centre signifies the beginning of a huge task that we have set for ourselves, which is to unearth innovations on the continent. In fact, not just to unearth these innovations, but to make sure they contribute to alleviating the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality in Africa.

“Our partnership with AUDA-NEPAD and Stellenbosch University will boost Africa’s research, development and innovation capacity, as well as contribute to the development of technologies and their deployment for socio-economic transformation in Africa.”

Professor Wim de Villiers, SU rector and vice-chancellor, says collaborations such as this one will enhance Africa’s development.

“I am really excited by what is happening on African soil, with African collaboration and partnerships. If we work together, the possibilities of what we can achieve are endless. Africa is driving its own agenda. Converting its enormous potential into actual products and services making a positive difference to the lives of our continent’s 1.3 billion people is not a far-fetched idea.”

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