Neither the future of the world nor the future of science can be conceived without the African populations. Sub-Saharan Africa alone, with its 1.4 billion inhabitants, is experiencing major demographic dynamism: 50% of this population will be under 25 in 2050. The benefits of education, training and research could transform this human capital into a real development-generating force, capable of stimulating the economies of African countries.
However, according to Unesco, on average (in 2016), investments in research and development in sub-Saharan Africa do not exceed 0.4% (GERD as a % of GDP in 2016) of gross domestic product (GDP), compared to a world average of 1.7%. Sub-Saharan African countries are still far from the 1% target that the African Union (AU) had recommended to be reached before 2020. is It is time to invest in equipment and structuring research projects in Africa, such as the construction of production or technology transfer centers for vaccines in South Africa and possibly in Senegal.
Business: why sub-Saharan Africa is becoming essential
It is about investing in scientific Africa, so that the continent can be able to choose research priorities that resonate with the challenges facing its people, and to practice science in the language that will promote the production and local ownership of results. It is also an investment in linguistic and cultural diversity in all fields of research. Language is much more than a support for knowledge: it interacts with it in a constant dialogue between form and content. However, in a unilingual scientific context, this dialogue is impoverished. This is why we must support the deployment of science in all its linguistic diversity, including French.
Thinking about science differently
To this end, the liveliness of scientific media such as scidev.net, Nature Africa or the new journal Global Africa, which contribute to the growing affirmation of the scientific Francophonie in the world, in which the Agence universitaire de la francophonie (AUF) participates through its mission. In this regard, the AUF is launching a Manifesto of French-speaking scientific diplomacy in which scientific Africa must play its full role. The international community has great hopes in the open science movement, which could considerably reduce the time it takes for decision-makers to access the strategic information they need to make scientifically-based decisions, and facilitate the discoverability of content from all regions around the world and in all languages.
La Francophonie, way of the future for a strong and united science
The growing affirmation of scientific Africa, in its specificities and its diversity, is a unique opportunity for the entire scientific community to think about science differently, in a more equitable and transversal way. Human knowledge is built on an extraordinary heritage based on mutually enriching multifaceted approaches: scientific, empirical, indigenous, etc. It is up to us to remobilize this particularly rich legacy in Africa, by giving greater recognition to the different forms of knowledge, by bringing them into dialogue with a view to a more lasting and harmonious relationship with our environment.
Cultural and linguistic dimensions
We need to better integrate the cultural and linguistic dimensions in the relations between science, innovation and society. An issue that the International Network for Governmental Scientific Advice (INGSA) wishes to tackle head-on, in particular by integrating the brand new International Francophone Network for Scientific Advice (RFIC), which will be launched in Montreal on November 3, 2022.
We will not be able to achieve the objectives of sustainable development on a planetary scale without recognizing all the knowledge and all the actors who are its source, which requires in particular a strong African scientific base. The message we deliver here is anchored in the vision of a pioneer of African science, the Senegalese anthropologist and physicist Cheikh Anta Diop, who, as early as the 1960s, affirmed the importance of rooting science in Africa: “Africa can once again become a center of scientific initiatives and decisions, instead of believing that it is condemned to remain the appendage, the field of economic expansion of the developed countries. » We dare to believe that today we have the means to ces ambitions.
*List of signatories
• Rémi Quirion, Chief Scientist of Quebec and President of the International Network for Governmental Science Advice (INGSA);
• Lassina Zerbo, President of the Atomic Energy Commission of Rwanda and President of the Orientation Committee of the International Francophone Network in Scientific Advice (RFIC);
• Damien Cesselin, Administrative Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie (APF);
•Jean-François Delfraissy, Chairman of the National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE) for life and health sciences in France;
• Madiagne Diallo, director of scientific animation of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council of Senegal (Cese);
• Slim Khalbous, rector of the Francophonie University Agency (AUF);
• Geoffroi Montpetit, Administrator of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF);
• Christian Edmond Bepi Pout, Minister Plenipotentiary and Director of Relations with the OIF at the Ministry of External Relations of Cameroon;
• Thierry Verdel, rector of Senghor University in Alexandria.