Future Africa at INGSA2024: A Decade of Global Science Advice and Diplomacy

Future Africa, represented by its task team members Dr Farai Kapfudzaruwa, Research, and Strategic Partnerships Manager; Dr Clarietta Chagwiza, Senior Postdoc Research Fellow; Prof Ahmed Bawa, Visiting Fellow; and Dr Chomora Mikeka, STI Director from the Government of Malawi, convened a strategic side event at the 5th International Conference on Governmental Science Advice (INGSA) conference on 1 May 2024 in Rwanda to explore the establishment of an STI leadership forum in Africa aimed convening key science stakeholders on the continent to reflect on challenges and opportunities to strengthen African science, as well as position the African science within the global arena.

Chaired by Professor Ahmed Bawa, the session featured expert panellists: Sameh Soror (INGSA-Africa Steering Committee Member, Helwan University – Egypt); Chomora Mikeka (Director of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Ministry of Education – Malawi); Lise Korsten (President, African Academy of Science – South Africa); and Sarudzai Muyambo (National Chair, Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) Zimbabwe National Chapter).

The side event, part of the broader 5th INGSA2024 conference celebrating a decade of global science advice and diplomacy under the theme "The Transformation Imperative", continued discussions initiated at Future Africa during Science Forum South Africa to advance collaborative action towards science in Africa.

The engagements and contributions of the side event reaffirmed the need for an STI leadership forum to enhance collaboration among African scientists and amplify their global influence. Participants recognised the forum's potential to promote cooperation and tackle societal challenges through science and a great roadmap to guiding all the nations in Africa to work towards the same vision. However, they also noted the importance of learning from past initiatives' shortcomings and embracing innovative approaches for achieving success.

Established in 2014, INGSA serves as a collaborative platform for policy exchange, capacity building, and operational research among global science advisory organizations and national systems. With over 6,000 members worldwide and regional chapters in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, INGSA facilitates evidence-based policy-making globally. The 5th INGSA held from 1-2 May 2024 brought together speakers from 39 countries to discuss the intersections of science, society, and policy-making.

Dr Clarietta Chagwiza, Senior Postdoctoral Fellow and member of the Future Africa Task Team, reflected on the conference's outcomes: "Discussions at INGSA2024 emphasised addressing geopolitical challenges like climate change, poverty and non-communicable diseases through robust science advice. The conference also highlighted the transformative potential of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing in promoting sustainable and inclusive growth." she said.

"In attending INGSA2024, I gained insights into the transdisciplinary approach essential for tackling global challenges," added Dr Chagwiza. "The conference reinforced the imperative of evidence-based policymaking across governmental levels and emphasised the role of reliable data in tracking progress towards the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals."

The outcomes of INGSA2024 underscored critical gaps and opportunities, emphasising global cooperation and bridging divides and fragmentations in scientific endeavours.