The Senior Experts Dialogue on Science, Technology and Innovation

  • 06th November 2016
  • by secretary

2-4 November 2016. The Senior Experts Dialogue (SED 2016) on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), an initiative of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, was hosted by the Department of Science and Technology of South Africa. The initiative was designed to support member states to harness STI to drive their economies. The theme was “Cities as Innovation hubs or Cities as Centres of Innovation”

Experts from 21 African countries attended the event, including South African metropolitans such

 Premier of Gauteng, David Makhura

as the Cities of Tshwane, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Local government leaders across the continent have been urged to ramp up investment in technology and innovation in a bid to drive growth at municipal level. African innovators believe that innovation needs to start at municipal level where government engages directly with communities.

The SED meeting seeked to identify key elements and issues, based on local experiences, that African governments, along with their international development partners, can take into account in formulating action plans to turn their cities from manufacturing and trade hubs into innovation hubs and centres.

Topics addressed:
  • What are the factors fettering, constraining the rapid transformation of African cities into hubs of innovation similar to Dubai, Singapore or the US’s Silicon Valley; 
  • what can governments at all levels – city, regional, provincial, state and national do; 
  • are national STI policies sufficiently responsive to the challenge, can regional integration be an instrument for transforming Africa’s cities into hubs of innovation, are lessons from Dubai and Singapore transferable; 
  • why is it important to explore the role of African cities as hubs of innovation and what are some of the challenges that hinder African cities from transforming into such hubs.
  • industrialisation and the role of cities
  • defining the African terrain: Emerging trends towards cities and hubs of innovation and 
  • can new African cities address the innovation challenge?

Participants emphasised the need for increased development of infrastructure for information communication technology (ICT) in order to empower the continent’s millions of young people. While the world embraces the Internet of Things, African youth cannot be left behind.


The first SED was held in 2014 in Abuja, Nigeria with the support of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the theme “Making New Technologies Work for Africa” The second was held in Nairobi Kenya in 2015 on the theme “Innovation Hubs, Clusters and Parks and Africa’s Transformation” and was co-organized with and hosted by the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) of the Government of Kenya.