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16.02.2010 General News

Ghana hosts second PACF Conference

By GNA
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Ghana hosts second PACF Conference
February 15, 2010
Elmina(CR), Feb. 15, GNA - Africa's abundant natural resources have not made her competitive due to the lack of viable indigenous technology and prudent management, Ms. Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Science and Technology, observed at Elmina on Monday.

She pointed out that current global economic demands had necessitated the adoption of several strategies to improve business innovation and competitiveness.

Ms. Ayittey made the observation at the opening session of the Second Pan-African Competitiveness Forum (PACF) being hosted by Ghana to provide focus on innovation and cluster-based competitiveness approaches.

The three-day conference under the theme: "Cluster Initiatives for Africa Economic Development and Sustainability", is tailored for national and regional economic development across Africa.

It is jointly sponsored by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the African Union and Competitiveness Institute of Spain.

About 150 participants from 25 African countries are participating.

The first conference held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in April 2008 was launched as a new continent-wide competence and action centre on innovation and cluster-based competitiveness initiatives in Africa.

The forum, facilitated by Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), would expose local small-scale businesses and enterprises to international businesses and innovations.

It is to assist productive sectors with activities that would add value to their produce as well as adopting strategies to enhance competitiveness across Africa.

Ms. Ayittey said Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) formed about 80 per cent of the economy and expected to make major contribution to the economies of most African countries therefore, it was appropriate to effectively tackle or salvage this aspect of the economy.

She said government considered the development of MSME a priority sector to help move the country to a desired middle-income status.

Ms. Ayittey said adoption of the cluster concept based on industry, knowledge-based and policy institution by PACF was commendable in bringing industry closer to knowledge institution and policy makers to boost productivity and industry.

She announced that the ministry was preparing a National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) through a participatory process.

On climate change Ms. Ayittey said Africa was not an island and therefore not immune from climate change and noted that putting on hold actions to mitigate its impact would be disastrous for the continent.

Madam Ama Benyiwa-Doe, Central Regional Minister said the global phenomena of poverty, recent economic down turn and climate change were dire challenges facing the planet.

She noted that these challenges provided the opportunities to search within the continent where the impact of these three phenomena were greatest or predicted to be so.

Madam Benyiwa-Doe said there was the need to develop products and provide services tailored to deal with the challenges of climate change and contribute to poverty reduction towards the resuscitation of the ailing global economy.

Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, Chairman of PACF Council in Uganda said some few enthusiastic people from Africa brought into fruition PACF and noted that Africa could not be condemned to poverty and negativity.

He urged Africans to put that history behind them, chart a new path forward and use the forum to champion competitiveness with value chain additions to the primary products of businesses by using the clusters.

Professor Nawangwe commended the Sweden International Development Agency SIDA and other partners for their immense contribution to the PACF.

Professor Lena Trojer of SIDA said the agency had been of immense help to the East African countries and was hopeful it would be extended to West African countries and assist productive sectors with activities that would add value to their produce as well as adopting strategies to enhance competitiveness across Africa.

Mr. Alberto Pezzi of Competitiveness Institute; said the institute was the large network of cluster initiatives with over 1,700 around the world and brought together stakeholders to improve clustering.

He called on participants to push the spirit of clustering in Africa to enhance competitiveness.

Dr. Abdulai Baba Salifu, Director General of CSIR, said Africa needed to develop local industry to survive instead of patronizing products and services of other countries to enrich its economy.

He said it was unfortunate that stories about Africa started well and ended terribly adding, enhancing clusters was a sure way of charting a new cause for the continent.

GNA

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