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Interview
Wondwossen Kiflu

Former State Minister
Ministry of Education
Ethiopia

The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia some 10 years back had launched a capacity building initiative called Engineering Capacity Building Program. The program with a focus on engineering has four pillars of reform namely university, technical and vocational education & training, quality infrastructure and private sector development.

The university reform is the particular point of interest when it comes to the bilateral development cooperation in education, science and technology fields between Ethiopia and South Korea. The economic growth of Korea has been taken as a model to learn from by the Ethiopian government and particularly the roles that Korean universities and government research centers have played in building the countries technological capability accumulation and transfer which fuels the fast paced growth for the last 50 years.

The cooperation in this field which is continuously gaining momentum has brought STEPI at the forefront with a role of a linking organizations between the different actors from both nations. STEPI has started its active role in the earlier days when Ethiopia was struggling to design its science, technology and innovation (STI) policy with a very limited practical experience and not having enough people with the required expertise. Interestingly since Ethiopia has taken the South Korean economic growth and particularly the technology capability accumulation & transfer model as a benchmark very early, it to certain extent created a strong will to learn thereby easing the task of STEPI and its team of expertise.

The STI policy design has served as a springboard for further involvement of STEPI which include the ongoing road map design of key technology sectors. This map will serve as a blueprint for developing strategies and action plans that are critical in insuring a sustainable and fast paced economic growth. With all this qualified experience working as a bridge between the two countries, STEPI's involvement in the coming years has to be more consolidated with further depth and breadth in the STI focus area.

Let me highlight some of the future focus cooperation areas in STI which I believe will be beneficial for both nations.

Train Future Ethiopian Scientists in science and engineering fields: High caliber students shall be selected and trained in famous Korean universities in emerging technology fields and later join S&T universities in Ethiopia.
S&T Leaders Training: Outstanding performers from the public service with science and engineering background shall be trained in the fields of Technology and Innovation Management and similar fields at PhD level.
Deployment of the Korean Professors and Experts: Deploy Korean scientists, engineers, professors and university leaders to improve the quality of Ethiopia’s S&T universities research and development capability and governance.
Building of Innovation Infrastructure: Establish an Ethiopian Advanced Institute of Science and Technology by taking KAIST as a model and a research institute with KIST as a benchmark.

Finally I would like to stress that for all these ideas to materialize there should be a concerted effort from all sides.
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