THE AU COMMISSIONER ESTI MEETS NIGERIAN MINISTERS
Ibadan, Nigeria: On a working visit to Nigeria from 3-9 April 2022, the AU Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (ESTI), H.E. Prof. Mohammed Belhocine, was granted an audience respectively by the Nigerian Minister of Science Technology and Innovation (STI), the Minister of Education and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, on 7 April 2022.
Meeting with H.E. Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Honourable Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation and his collaborators, the Commissioner presented the Department for ESTI and recalled its mandate. He also presented the Pan African University (PAU) and the Pan African University Institute for Life and Earth Sciences including Health and Agriculture (PAULESI), West African hub of the PAU, hosted by Nigeria. He emphasized on its relevance and added-value to the continent and wished for more Member States’ contributions to this AU flagship initiative.
The Commissioner further informed the Minister of the upcoming Specialized Technical Committee on Education, Science Technology and Innovation (STC-ESTI) that will hold very soon and said his department will count on the active participation of Nigeria.
Taking the floor in his turn, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu stressed the relevance of STI for the development of Africa and the need to create an enabling environment for the growth of STI on the continent. He also said that the Ministry of STI is supporting the implementation of AU programmes and intends to keep the momentum, notably through active participation in the session of the Specialized Technical Committee. He further mentioned the gradual implementation in Nigeria of the AU Executive Council’s decision to allocate 1% of GDP to STI, as it has reached 0.5% of GDP, an improvement compared to previous years.
The Commissioner and his delegation were thereafter received by Mr. David Gende, Director of Human Resource Management in the Ministry of Education, representing H.E Mallam Adamu Adamu, Honourable Minister of Education.
Taking the floor, the Commissioner expressed thanks to the Nigerian Government for hosting the AU Scientific Technical Research Commission (STRC) and PAULESI and appreciated its support and commitment in building the new PAULESI administrative building. He also presented the event dubbed WorldSkills Africa Swakopmund 2022 (WSAS2022) an event organized recently and dedicated to youth vocational training. It was organized by WorldSkills Namibia in partnership with WorldSkills International and the African Union, and expressed the will to see Nigeria participate in this event for the next editions. He concluded by announcing the upcoming Specialized Technical Committee on Science Technology and Innovation (STC-ESTI), which will take place in a few months and said to count on the active participation of Nigeria.
In his turn, Mr. David Gende took note of the upcoming STC-STI. Referring to the World skills event, he revealed that Nigeria has got a national programme enabling the youth to join the market and create added value through vocational training and expressed the wish to join the international levels soon. He also added that the Government is currently tackling issues such as migration and youth.
It is worth noting that a representative of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund was part of the meeting. When given the floor, he recalled the fund’s support for the construction of the PAULESI administrative block building and said TETfund was ready to promote PAULESI and the entrepreneurship club.
The last meeting was held with H.E. Geoffrey Onyeama, Honourable Minister ofForeign Affairs, who granted a warm welcome to the Commissioner, recalling his election last October, and how he was part of the process as a member of the AU Executive Council. He commended the meetings the Commissioner had with the Ministers of STI and Education, following the Commissioner’s briefing on these meetings. During the discussion, the Minister underlined that Nigeria had redefined its STI policy, based on a new vision and roadmap which could be harnessed for the development of the continent.
He underscored the need for African States to rethink STI. According to him, Government’s allocation to STI, research and Development should be increased to 2% of GDP. He also raised some issues regarding food security, asserting that Africa needs to be self-sufficient in terms of agriculture.
In the same vein, he said there is a need for Africa to lay more emphasis on vocational training, innovation and entrepreneurship by amongst others, increasing the budget of education. According to him, strong political awareness is need to be able to transform the continent.
The AU Commissioner ESTI and his delegation will continue to liaise and work with their Nigerian counterparts to implement the commitments made by both sides during the visit.
For further information please contact:
Ms. Claudette Chancelle BILAMPASSI MOUTSATSI| ESTI Department, African Union Commission | Tel: +251 115 517 700 | E-mail:BilampassiC@africa-union.org