Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- At the conference of intellectuals from Africa and the Diaspora underway here, an African scientist Thursday stressed at a plenary meeting that unalloyed commitment by governments was imperative in furthering science and technology in Africa.
"The technological gap between Africa and the industrialised world is very wide but can be bridged," said Adigun Ade Abiodun, who is chair of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
"It is basically a matter of knowing where you're going, and getting everyone on board, including the public and private sectors," said Abiodun, who made a presentation on the stakes and prospects for Africa in science and technology.
In a briefing with PANA, he repeatedly cited the examples of Asian countries which 40 years ago were on the same pedestal with Africa, but could today rub shoulders with Western industrial giants.
Abiodun maintained that if African countries failed to make the strides experienced in Singapore, Malaysia and other southeast Asian nations, it was arguably for want of resolve and commitment.
"Africa needs to have a vision, a policy.
It needs to have something to aim at, a goal to which it is committed, something to budget for.
Unless goals are set and clearly defined, there would be nothing to work for," he pointed out.
He observed, for instance that India, now on the upper rungs of the industrialisation ladder, crafted its policy on science and technology way back in 1958 and the three-page framework remains valid down to this day.
Africa, Abiodun maintained, has the requisite intellectual capacity to take its scientific and technological development to any heights provided it gets its priorities right and policies clear.
To that end, he noted that the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) was a welcome initiative insofar as it provides policy orientation in science and technology.
He said the calibre of participants at the conference in Dakar itself bore testimony to Africa's development capacity, but it was incumbent on the authorities to make the environment conducive to the contribution of scientists and the intelligentsia at large.
"At African universities, there is a lot of interference from politicians.
The environment is just not friendly to deep reflection and inquiry," he observed.