Africa is rich in both natural and human resources, yet nearly 200 million of its people are undernourished because of inadequate food supplies. Comprehensive strategies are needed across the continent to harness the power of science and technology (S&T) in ways that boost agricultural productivity, profitability, and sustainability -- ultimately ensuring that all Africans have access to enough safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs. This report addresses the question of how science and technology can be mobilized to make that promise a reality.
The facts listed above reflect a more general pattern of low investment in research and development in Africa. Insufficient resources are only part of the problem. Because education in poor countries is less affordable, much clearer educational priorities must be defined, in terms of fields, levels (primary versus secondary versus higher education), quantity and quality. The hard choices surrounding the debate over quantity and quality are especially difficult for contemporary universities in Sub-Saharan Africa, because new universities are being created yet the quality of higher education has fallen.
Without question, the crisis in the African university and research community is severe and is not amenable to a quick fix. African scholars and researchers are currently ill prepared to train the third generation of agricultural scientists starting around 2010. Unless the current crisis in the African scientific community is solved, Africa's next generation of students will be caught in a downward spiral, and the 'scientific divide' between the bio-tech North and the lagging South will widen further.