The future of African technology lies in educating the people in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), giving people perspective, options, and a means to do something about the issues that affect them directly with the support of the government.
The saying “I am only human” to many of us tells of a species that is not perfect, a species that makes mistakes, a species that would fail time and time again. What most do not see is the other side of that saying. Through failings comes learning, innovation, and growth. Every technological advancement to date has seen its share of failings before it became what it is today. Some were even discovered through those failures.
What I see to be the largest challenge to creating sustainable development from a technology perspective is the lack of an enabling environment for technological advancement, which, in turn, negatively affects the mindset of the people. To do anything, you need to have the right conditions and when those conditions do not exist, create them. Countries in Africa have some of the largest concentrations of university degree-holders in the world, covering a whole range of technological fields and more. But even these degrees are very generic. There seems to be no expansion of these fields to help the students concentrate their skills and become masters of their craft.
After spending so much money getting a degree, there are no jobs in so many of these fields; there is so much pressure to start earning money to support the family that has sacrificed so much to send one to the university and so on. With all these in the purview of these newly minted degree-holders, they are not thinking of creating Africa’s renewable energy plant or reducing our dependence on imported technical devices. They just what to solve their immediate problems, like getting a job, supporting their families, or moving into better neighborhoods.
Ideas for possible solutions
We need to first understand what our issues are, have a deeper, better understanding of where we stand. Only then would we be able to know what we need to do and where we need to go. This is not only a political problem, so it should not be tackled as such. This is about educating the people in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), giving people perspective, options, and a means to do something about the issues that affect them directly with the support of the government.
A good place to start would be to implement the following:
- Create a system that makes it a crime to keep children out of school in Africa. Reform the basic education systems – elementary and secondary schools to become STEM-inclined. That is the basis for technological development and advancement. Providing a system to keep the teachers in African schools up-to-date with changes in their fields and equipped with the right tools teach our children. The men and women with whom we entrust the future of our children should also be incentivized to take their jobs more seriously.
- Create alternative platforms as well as qualifications for higher education. In Europe, for instance, the core of the workforce is comprised mostly of people who went through vocational training and the majority of our innovations come from these people. Foster innovations; every student going through this alternative path would have the chance to take a stab at providing a solution to one of Africa’s issues in their fields of study. This form of education works elsewhere because of the value attached to it. So we need to sensitize the masses. We need to let the African people know that there are alternative paths to higher education that can be certified and internationally recognized.
- Create a standards organization that shall create and oversee the academic content of the STEM-centric vocational education system. This body will also create and maintain a database of companies and businesses that meet the minimum requirements to provide the environment for the mandatory one-year on the job learning process for the students.
Bobby is probably one of the few Africans in Mechatronics Engineering in Europe. As Quality Management Engineer, developing quality assurance processes for current and future machines, his work comprises project development and management, new and current component testing, software installation, firmware updates, solutions to hardware and software problems, documentation of test processes and instructions. His experience includes working for HESS Cash Systems GmbH – part of the over 130-year-old company that is a market leader in cash-handling system solutions for banks, public institutions, energy providers, libraries, and retail enterprises. The global company is the premium partner, from the consulting stage through to development, production and all the way to after-sales service. At HESS Cash Systems GmbH, Bobby and team know that everything that drives and shapes them as a modern, medium-sized company is deeply rooted in their history and it’s from that history that they continue to develop their expertise that brings their customers added value.