The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has called for greater investment in the training and mentorship of young men and women in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Dr Dlamini Zuma made this call while delivering her keynote address at the 4th Annual Global First Ladies and Business Summit, on Monday 19 September, 2016, organised on the margins of the 71th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting in New York.
She noted that Africa is urbanising rapidly, with increasing demand for infrastructure (transport, energy, water, and sanitation) as well, health, education, cultural facilities and other public services. African cities will increasingly require trained and qualified architects, engineers, town and urban planners, as well as expertise in the maintenance of infrastructure.
Referring to Agenda 2063, the African Union's framework document for driving Africa's structural transformation, Dr Zuma reiterated the importance of the infrastructure sectors and said that they will require scientific, research and professional skills, at different levels, including entrepreneurship such that opportunities can be transformed into business ideas, based on the needs and markets in towns, communities and cities.
It was on this same line that Ms Savannah Maziya, the Chief Executive Office of the BUNENGI Group, organisers of the event said that Africa needs to promote STEM not as a nice to have, but in the interest of our survival. She called for a focus on education, having the right teachers, with the right attitude and the right policies to have a meaningful impact.
Other speakers at the Summit included the First Ladies of South Africa and Zambia, and a representative of UNESCO who joined their voices to advocate for STEM education and profession to be made more attractive.