Kenya hosted the three-day China-Africa Science and Technology Cooperation and Innovation for Social and Economic Benefits Symposium, which saw the participation of nearly 100 attendees, including policymakers and scientists. The symposium was organized by the African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and the Chinese mission to the African Union.
One of the key highlights of the symposium was the adoption of an ambitious blueprint to enhance China-Africa scientific collaboration in strategic areas such as food systems transformation, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable water resources management.
Mithika Linturi, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for agriculture and livestock development, noted during the symposium’s opening that African countries can benefit from sustained growth, food security, and green recovery by cooperating with China in the fields of science, research and innovation.
Linturi added that China’s competitive advantage in plant breeding can be applied in Africa to develop crop varieties that can withstand climatic stresses, diseases and pests.
Liu Weidong, director-general of the Bureau of International Cooperation at the CAS, said that a well-structured partnership between Chinese and African scientists is crucial for achieving the objectives of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, including food security and green growth.
He stressed that China-Africa cooperation in science, technology and innovation should address challenges related to the climate crisis, water stress, hunger and habitat depletion that are affecting the continent. Liu highlighted several flagship projects, such as botanical gardens and training in modern farming technologies, aimed at revitalizing China-Africa scientific collaboration.
On the sidelines of the Nairobi symposium Monday, a volume of the Flora of Kenya, which documents nearly 7,000 plant species from 223 families, was launched. This collaborative research project involved scientists from the CAS, the Sino-Kenya Joint Research Center, and the National Museums of Kenya.
Wang Qingfeng, director of the Sino-Africa Joint Research Center of the CAS and editor-in-chief of the Flora of Kenya, said that the publication’s launch marked the successful cooperation between Kenyan and Chinese scientists in shedding light on plant species and the ecosystem services they provide. Over the past decade, Chinese and Kenyan researchers have conducted extensive field investigations, discovered new species, and contributed to ongoing biodiversity conservation efforts.
Mahlet Teshome, the acting commissioner at the Department of Science, Technology, and Innovation of the African Union Commission, expressed African states’ eagerness to enhance scientific cooperation with China under the Belt and Road Initiative as they strive for long-term socioeconomic transformation.
She emphasized that China-Africa cooperation in science, technology, innovation and applied research will support the continent’s food security agenda and benefit local communities engaged in conserving rare species.
The China-Africa scientific cooperation symposium, in a concluding communique adopted Wednesday, proposed promoting the adoption of technologies to reduce post-harvest losses prevalent on the continent. Additionally, scientists advocated for the introduction of hybrid rice, high-value fruits, the conservation of indigenous plant species, and the restoration of degraded land to address hunger and malnutrition in Africa.
Sofia Tesfazion, the director of resource mobilization at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, called for the expansion of China-Africa scientific cooperation to include remote sensing, training, plant breeding and clean energy to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.