How Science Diplomacy Is Leveling the Playing Field For Africa

Saturday, February 13, 2016: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Hoover (Marriott Wardman Park)
Daan du Toit,South African Science Ministry, Brussels, Belgium
Active cooperation within the BRICS, the appointment of a South African to lead the African Union and the award of the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope are indicative of South Africa’s ambition to contribute to the global scientific enterprise. Africa itself is a continent rich in natural resources such as oil, gold, timber, diamonds, platinum, uranium and chrome. It has the potential to feed itself and others, but the competition for Africa's resources has often led to mismanagement, environmental degradation, and in some instances, to conflict. As Kofi Annan rightly asserts, Africa loses more in revenues through the non-taxation of resources going abroad than it receives in total international investment. Yet, my talk will accentuate the positive, outlining a number of important developments acting as a carrier wave for all Africans and our global partners. Chief among these is the determination of a number of African countries to build common infrastructure and institutions, to move from a resource-dependent to a knowledge-based economy. We are rolling up our sleeves to address global challenges in health and energy. We are better leveraging the potential of S&T in exciting fields such as space and maritime research, while adding our unique understanding of the human and social dynamics of societies in transition. My talk will also evidence how emerging economies such as China, Brazil and others have demonstrated a keen interest in partnerships with Africa with recent spectacular and significant investments.