Africa-Press – Eritrea. His Excellency William Ruto, President of the Republic of Kenya
Her Excellency Ms. Nataša Musar, President of the Republic of Slovenia
Let me join others in congratulating you for your able moderation of this crucial dialogue on the application of science, technology, innovation and data for transformative action as game-changers in achieving sustainable development.
Indeed, there are various game-changers that could transform societal development such as new technologies, science, and modes of organization. Other candidates also include Artificial Intelligence (AI), advanced biotech, robotics, internet of Things, to name but a few. For policymakers, the challenges such innovations entail are manifold. The most critical challenge is perhaps to know what will turn out to be transformative, what is just stepwise evolution, and what is hype. Another challenge is understanding how technologies and innovations that have proven transformative in one socio-economic context can be adapted to another with different levels of development and resources.
For a country like Eritrea, where much of the infrastructure that drives the innovation systems of developed countries is absent, a particular challenge is how to develop local innovation systems that can address and transform potential game-changers into valuable vehicles for development driven by the people to ensure sustainability.
Despite such challenges, innovations in science and technology remain key drivers of sustainable development. For example, managing interconnectedness between the education systems and research institutions, businesses, and different government agencies, may stimulate innovation based on cooperation between the actors.
As one of the good examples in this regard, I wish to refer to our primary healthcare system and its modest achievements. Despite a lack of resources, it has achieved remarkable reductions in child mortality, maternal mortality, and close to universal vaccination coverage for children as in strongly maintaining the spread of HIV and Covid-19. As such, it shows that the SDGs can be achieved in relatively resource-limited contexts. Among the reasons for the achievements is the systematic use of data collection, with the help of innovative data processing technologies, both in the form of service statistics and in topical data gathering. Another factor is the strong commitment of the government, effective organization of the health services, and the involvement of relevant stakeholders.
Such experiences can serve as a model in other fields. The crucial link is the use of data in conjunction with service delivery. At the moment, Eritrea has a population registration system, and it is in the initial phase of developing a modern Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) system. Moreover, Eritrea is also on the verge of establishing SDGs database which will be crucial in regular monitoring of the progress towards the implementation of the projected goals. Furthermore, Eritrea is on the road to using advanced technologies and innovations to further strengthen the existing population registration system and successfully develop a modern CRVS system and SDGs database. In enhancing the development and utilization of science, technology, innovation, and data for transformative action, Eritrea is strengthening its science and technology institutions as well as those involved in data collection, compilation, analysis, and dissemination works.
In closing, some may argue that technology transfer is old-fashioned. It is not, it is rather a plea for making science, technology, and innovation accessible and affordable for all so that game-changing transformations may be designed within the context of each individual country’s innovation system.
I Thank You!