Africa commits to research
Heads of state meeting on 29-30 January at the African Union's annual summit in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) have sworn to boost research spending and develop science education on the continent.
The year 2007 is designated a year for championing science, technology and innovation in Africa. It gets off to a flying start with the establishment of a Pan-African Intellectual Property Organization to protect endogenous innovation. (More Eng - Fre)
Science, Technology and Innovation top Africa's agenda
African leaders are poised to support science in Africa as never before. The African Union Summit taking place in Addis Ababa from 22 to 30 January will take as its special theme Science, Technology and Innovation for Africa's Socio-economic Development. The Summit is likely to give a strong push to the implementation of Africa's Consolidated Plan of Action. As the convener of the UN Cluster on Science and Technology, UNESCO contributed both intellectually and financially to elaboration of the Plan and preparations for the Summit. UNESCO has also aligned its programmes on African priorities, as illustrated in Science in Africa (Eng - Fre).
Documents & Links.
Science with Africa
12 December - UNESCO is hosting a briefing session for Permanent Delegates and French institutions on 17 December as a first step towards developing new partnerships with African countries. Areas for potential cooperation include ICTs, science policy, life sciences, energy, climate change and agriculture. The briefing session is a preparatory meeting for a major conference on the theme of Science with Africa in March 2008 (see Events below) which is being hosted by the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union, in collaboration with the private enterprise Intelligence in Science and UNESCO. The briefing session will take place at 2:30 pm in Room XIII at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. For details, please contact the focal points (s.nair-bedouelle(at)unesco.org, m.miloudi(at)unesco.org)
The 3rd African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology
12-16 November - Support was provided to the 3rd African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology which was held in Mombasa, Kenya, from 12-16 November 2007 (AMCOST III). The meeting discussed among other issues the strategy and reports on the implementation of Africa's Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA), implementation of the African Union 2007 Summit Decisions, resource mobilization and Governance of the AMCOST. The UNESCO Assistant Director General for Science, Mr. Walter Erdelen, addressed the meeting during the official opening on 14th November 2007. He used the opportunity to outline the actions that UNESCO has undertaken since the African Union Summit in January 2007, which requested UNESCO to assist NEPAD in the implementation of Africa’s Consolidated Plan of Action.
Ministerial Round Table
26-27 October - On the margins of the 34th General Conference of UNESCO, a Ministerial Round Table on "Science and Technology for Sustainable Development and the Role of UNESCO" was organized on 26-27 October 2007.
For Tanzanian President, country’s new science policy ‘rhymes with changed times’
23 October - Yesterday, the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, addressed the 34th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in Paris, where 193 Member States are meeting to adopt the Organization’s programme and budget for 2008-2009. In his address, President Kikwete emphasized the importance of science education ‘which is certainly a prerequisite for economic development. […]’ before adding that ‘we are very grateful for UNESCO’s support in developing a national science and technology policy that rhymes with the changed times and circumstances.’
At the request of President Kikwete, UNESCO is providing assistance in designing, executing and managing a comprehensive review and repositioning of the country’s science, technology and innovation system (STI) ‘for the fostering of economic growth and competitiveness’. This is part of implementation of the country’s Vision 2025, which aims to ‘transform the economy into a strong, resilient and competitive economy buttressed by science and technology’. Late last month, UNESCO’s Natural Sciences Sector fielded a mission to Tanzania to prepare for the review, which will be conducted under the leadership of UNESCO within the framework of One UN programme. Tanzania is one of the eight ‘One UN’ pilot countries, together with Albania, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, Uruguay and Viet Nam.
In addition to the science system review, the mission identified two major areas for support: strengthening capacities for the management of the Tanzanian science and innovation system and developing a programme of technological innovation and entrepreneurship.
Executive Board adopts three flagship projects for Africa
15 October - On 10 October, UNESCO’s Executive Board adopted the Plan of Action for Africa proposed by the Director General of UNESCO with emphasis on three flagship projects. These are: the initiative for capacity-building in science policy; science, technology and engineering education; and the establishment of an African Virtual Campus. In light of the Board’s decision, UNESCO will launch an African Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Initiative (ASTIPI) to develop national science, technology and innovation (STI) policies for the numerous African countries still lacking one. UNESCO will work with these countries to reform their science systems, in cooperation with the other UN agencies belonging to the S&T Cluster working with the African Union’s (AU) New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). UNESCO will mobilize the necessary expertise, in consultation with the AU and NEPAD, to train 100 specialists in policy analysis between 2008 and 2010. In parallel, an ASTIPI postgraduate course will be designed and implemented, short-term executive workshops will be run for senior government officials and an African e-library of science, technology and innovation policy will be set up. With regard to the other two flagship projects, the Executive Board requested the Director-General to ensure that that on science, technology and engineering education contributed to the revitalization of higher education and included the development of policies conducive to the retention of qualified personnel. As for the African Virtual Campus, it will be based on the model of the Avicenna Virtual Campus put in place in 15 Mediterranean countries by UNESCO between 2002 and 2006 with European Commission funding.
Read Science in Africa (English, French) on UNESCO’s contribution to Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action to 2010, distributed to Heads of State and Government at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa in January 2007.
Science policy review in Mauritania
11 June - UNESCO and UNCTAD will be fielding a first mission to Mauritania from 22 to 28 June, as part of a science policy review they are conducting jointly.
For details, contact Mustafa El-Tayeb.
Ethiopia launches new science and technology policy
8 June - Ethiopia is to launch a new national science and technology policy (S&T) in Addis Ababa on 26-28 June. The launch marks the end of a review of the existing policy (adopted in 1993), undertaken by the government with UNESCO support. The review recommends that S&T policy be seen as part and parcel of the country’s overall development plan and that research in the social sciences be integrated in national development priority programmes. It also recommends that at least 1.5% of GDP be allocated to S&T annually.
For details, contact (in Addis Ababa): Nureldin Satti.
Nigerian monarchs to visit UNESCO
15 March - Three Nigerian Monarchs, His Imperial Majesty, the Ooni of Ife, His Royal Majesty, the Emir of Kano and His Royal Majesty, the Obi of Onitsha, have agreed to support initiatives focused on science and technology in Nigeria. As part of the preparatory process for a new programme, the Monarchs will visit UNESCO headquarters and the Ecole Polytechnique in Palaiseau near Paris (France), on Tuesday, 20 MarchAfter receiving the Monarchs in his office, the Director-General will open a Dialogue Session on the Role of Monarchs in the Development of Science and Technology in Nigeria. The opening ceremony will commence at 10h15 in the Executive Board Meeting taking place in Room X of UNESCO’s Fontenoy building. For details, sc.stp(at)unesco.org or ring 331 4568 4135 or 4187.
Media Advisories - Avis aux médias
UNESCO reiterates commitment to Africa’s Plan for science and technology
1 February - In his Address to Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) at the African Union Summit on 29 January, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said that UNESCO would be at Africa’s side in translating the ‘visionary ambition’ of Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action into ‘concrete results’. He then proceeded to highlight areas in which UNESCO could contribute to implementation of the Plan. These include putting in place governance systems to ‘enable African countries to harness and share their resources to lead scientific research’. Citing the UNESCO Science Report, he recalled that South Africa was currently responsible for 90% of expenditure on R&D in sub-saharan Africa. ‘Most countries will therefore need to make major new investments if the 1% target [endorsed at the Khartoum Summit last year of devoting 1% of GDP to R&D] is to be met. The target marks an important step forward’, he added, ‘but enhanced domestic funding must in turn be matched by increased international aid’. In this connection, he expressed strong support for the establishment of an African Fund to provide multi-year funding for implementation of the Plan. Explaining that more detailed information about UNESCO’s contribution to the Plan could be found in the brochure Science in Africa distributed at the Summit, Mr Matsuura went on to outline UNESCO’s work in developing capacity in Africa in, inter alia, biotechnology, biodiversity conservation and satellite remote sensing for environmental monitoring. Among UNESCO’s strategies for developing human and institutional capacity on the continent, he cited UNESCO’s work with UNEP and the NEPAD secretariat to develop a network of centres of excellence in water science in Africa and UNESCO’s Avicenna Virtual Campus, which ‘UNESCO is working to see how [it] could be expanded to cover all of Africa’. The African Union Summit, which wound up on 30 January, had as its special theme Science, Technology and Innovation for Africa’s Socio-economic Development. Read the Address (half in English, half in French).