ECOWAS launches research and innovation forum

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Tuesday launched the African Research and Innovation Forum (FARI) in Abuja.

FARI is a regional platform for exchanges and discussions between scientists, technologists, innovators, decision-makers, the private sector, technical and financial partners, pupils/students and the populations, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, said.

“It aims to be unifying, innovative but also and above all to carry a mission to promote the products of researchers in the region,” said Mr Touray who was represented by Fatou Sarr, commissioner for human development and social affairs.

According to Mr Touray, FARI is the ECOWAS forum dedicated to the promotion of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).

“The convening of the African Research and Innovation Forum marks an important turning point in the promotion of science and technology at the regional level,” said Umaro Embalo, President of Guinea Bissau and Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.

Mr Embalo, who was represented by João Ribeiro Butiam, ambassador of Guinea Bissau, noted that FARI fits well into his mandate which places importance on science and technology as factors that should favour the acceleration of the industrialisation of our region.

“This Forum is of the utmost importance, because we all know that science, technology and innovation are the tripartite that must lift our continent out of poverty,” he said.

FARI, which could not hold on two occasions – 2016 and 2019 due to technical issues and COVID-19 respectively – will now hold from 17 to 21 October in Nigeria.

The forum themed “Science, Technology and Innovation for a more Competitive ECOWAS” will see two heads of states, several startups, ministers of science and technology, over 60 experts from 15 member states, Africa and the world come to Nigeria.

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Speaking at the launch, Nigeria’s minister of science and technology, Adeleke Mamora, said Nigeria with her huge population can no longer afford to be a consuming nation, but a productive one.

“It is on this basis that the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (FMSTI) is continuously seeking for ways of commercialising the various R&D results from all our Research Institutions for the benefits of not just Nigerians and Nigeria, but also for the good of member countries in the region,” he said.

Mr Mamora added that Nigeria is poised to continuously achieve research excellence, attract and retain adequate human resources for STI, foster competitiveness and innovation, and build science and technology capacities in the country.

He also called on the private sector to join hands with the government in achieving this feat, adding that the government alone cannot fund these innovations.

According to Ms Sarr, ECOWAS has a responsibility to harmonise the efforts of member states in order to get the buy in of all involved.

Chiamaka Okafor is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.

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