African Science and Technology

African Science and Technology is the development, use, and study of science and technology on the continent. The latter can be said to have been from the birth of proto-man.


The development, use, and study of modern science and technology remains miniscule on the continent. Only 0.1% of patents registered in the United States Patent and Trademarks Office originated from sub-Saharan Africa. Compared to the NIC (Newly Industrialize Countries),  Africa spends $6 USD per person on science and technology, NIC spends $66 USD per person, China $17 USD per person, India $11 USD per person(2004).

Entity Spending per person
on S&T (2004)
Africa   $6
Newly Industrialized
Countries (NIC) 
China   $17
India   $11

The amount of African researchers remains minute. In sub-Saharan Africa, 113 researchers exist for every million, 595 NIC researchers for every million, 454 Chinese researchers for every million, 151 Indian researchers for every million(2004).

Entity  Researcher per mil.
Sub Africa 113 
Newly Industrialized
China 454 
India 151 

Aknowledgement of the importance of science and commitment to science began taking place in the 1980s, with the adoption of the Lagos Plan of Action adopted by the Organization of African Unity, predecessor to the African Union. The plan called for African governments to allocate 1% of GDP to science and technology. By 2003, only South Africa, Malawi, and Uganda came close. By 2012, no African country alloted more than 5% of their budget to science and research.

95% of research conducted in Africa is funded by other countries, aid agencies, NGOs, and funders like the Wellcome Trust, setting priorities, priorities that might not be in African interest. In Scientometrics, a 2001 to 2013 study of 15 west African countries revealed that west African countries did little scientific research with each other and developing countries, and typically had collaborators from mainly only three countries--United States, France, United Kingdom. The following list the percentage of research involving foreign collaboration per country.

Country  % of foreign collaboration
Benin  80% 
Ghana  58% 
Senegal   63% 

The study revealed that Benin, Ghana, and Senegal, West Africa in general, did very little collaboration in research. They collaborated only when a western party intervened.

Thirteen percent of the world population is in Africa, but she has only .36 percent of the world's scientist. African scientist publish less than 1 percent of material in reputable scientific journals, as of July of 2013. Of the listed 400 top universities in the world, Africa has only four listed universities, and all are in South Africa.

The internet--a vital tool of development and ready access of information-- remains low in penetration compared to other continents and regions. Though the latter is changing, internet penetration is increasing. In 2012 penetration was at 10.9%, as of 2013 this has increased to 16%.

 Continents %Penetration
Africa 16% 
Arab States 38% 
Asia & Pac. 32% 
Europe 75% 
Americas 61% 


Though science and technology remains miniscule, things are improving. On March 27, 2012 Angola and South Africa agreed to cooperate in developing their research and development capacities. The two countries agreed to share technical research among their universities. 

Technology hubs and districts are also beginning to take hold on the continent. Such hubs include Mauritius's Ebene Cyber-City, Kenya's Konza Technology City, Rwanda's ICT City, and South Africa's Innovation Hub. South Africa's Innovation Hub is the first fully accredited Science and Technology Park, a full member of the International Association of Science Parks (IASP).

In recognition of the role science needs to play in the development of the continent, the African Union has created the Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Awards, in two categories:Earth and Life Sciences Category and Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation. In 2012, the award was given to Prof. Michael John Wingfield of South Africa in Earth and Life Sciences Category and Prof. Nabil A. Ibrahim of Egypt in Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation Category.

Although allocation of 1% of GDP has been advocated to increase science and technology on the continent, another solution has been greater economic regional integration and intra-regional trade. Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is at the forefront of this approach. They have establish an Innovation Council, headed by imminent African experts, scientist, and scholars.

Works Cited

Angop.Angola, South Africa sign scientific research cooperation accord. 3 March 20.
<,582c5e0e-a972-43bf-811f-093b13a3ccfb.html>retrieved 01-April-2013

Juma, Colestous. Trading Places: Commerce Drives Science and Technology in Africa. Forbes 11/27/2012. retrieved 10-April-2013

Lanyero, Flavia. Daily Monitor. Scientist call for more science funds. 1-April-2013
<>retrieved 01-April-2013

The Innovation Hub Commits To Tech Demo Africa. IT News Africa. 26-May-2013,<>retrieved 01-April-2013

Ghana Broadcasting Corporation. AfDB approves $45m grant for creation of Pan African University. 29-July- 2013. <> retrieve 30-July-2013 . West African Science to Reliant on Foreign Collaboration.<> retrieved 9-September-2013.

Ogbu, Osita(2004). Can Africa Develop Without Science and Technology? The African Technology Policy Studies Network(ATPS), Nairobi. <> retrieved 9-Sep-2013