UNESCO cooperation with NEPAD in Science and Technology

UNESCO’s programme of scientific cooperation with the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) involves the participation of Science Sector’s Divisions, the Regional Bureau for Science in Nairobi, the NEPAD and African Union Secretariats, several United Nations agencies and many UNESCO field offices in Africa. The programme is coordinated by:

Division of Science Analysis and Policies
1, rue Miollis
75732 Paris Cedex 15
Tel : 33 1 45 68 35 71 / 41 35
Fax : 33 1 45 68 58 28
Email : sc.ap(at)unesco.org


Governance of the national science, technology and innovation systems

Provision of assistance, using the methodology developed by the Division of Science Analysis and Policies, in the conduct of reviews of national science and innovation systems in countries which have signed the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

Capacity-building for planning development programmes

Mounting of training programmes to build internal capacities for science sector analysis, programming and budgeting, including the elaboration of projects for donor funding. This action is also aimed at strengthening the capacities of Regional Economic Communities.

Investment programmes for poverty reduction

Design of investment programmes for poverty reduction, with particular emphasis on technical entrepreneurship and technological innovation for the development of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Financing science and technology

UNESCO through its Division for Science Analysis and Policies is exploring various modalities to finance S&T efforts in the continent. In this context, it has developed guidelines on debt relief for science and technology for development which can be used by Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) to finance S&T activities as part of the poverty reduction programme.

These actions will be implemented in close collaboration with partner agencies including the International Development Research Centre, OECD, The African Development Bank, the World Bank, SIDA/SAREC, ISESCO, TWAS, the NEPAD Business Group and sister agencies of the United Nations system.

What is NEPAD?

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) is a socio-economic development programme of the African Union (AU). Its vision and policy framework document, developed by the five initiating countries (Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa) was adopted, in July 2001, at the Summit of the Heads of States and Governments. In November 2002, the United Nations endorsed NEPAD as the framework within which the international community should concentrate its efforts for Africa’s development. The framework serves as basis for cooperation with the continent’s development partners such as the G -77, the European Union, OECD and the G8.

Management structure

  • The Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee (HSGIC), which reports to the AU Assembly, has twenty members and meets three to four times a year to consider proposed action plans and review progress of implementation. President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria is the Chairperson of the HSGIC.
  • The HSGIC is serviced by a Steering Committee comprising of their personal representatives. The Chairperson of the Steering Committee, Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu heads the Coordinating Secretariat located in Pretoria, South Africa ( www.nepad.org) which coordinates the process of preparing or revising plans of actions in priority areas.


In NEPAD’s vision document, there is explicit recognition of the role of science and technology as engines of economic growth and sustainable development. To translate this recognition into concrete actions, the NEPAD Secretariat has developed the framework for the promotion of science and technology provisions of regional treaties, Millennium Development Goals, NEPAD vision document and Chapter VIII of the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).


The Africa Department of UNESCO, as part of the process of ensuring the contribution of the Organization to NEPAD, organised an International Seminar “Forward-Looking Approaches and Innovative Strategies to Promote the Development of Africa in the 21st Century”, 8-9 November 2001. During the Seminar, the Natural Sciences Sector organised a Workshop on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development which was chaired by Ms L.Brito, Mozambique’s Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology. The Ministers of Science and Technology of Nigeria and South Africa also attended the workshop.

The recommendations of the workshop and the NEPAD goals in science and technology were taken into account in the elaboration of the Organization’s Medium Strategy for Africa, 2002 – 2007. In addition, a Seminar “UNESCO and NEPAD: From Vision to Action” was held in Ouagadougou 5-7 March 2003 to explore ways and means of applying the NEPAD Plans of Action in the Organization’s fields of competence. Subsequently, the Science Sector in cooperation with the Africa Department, has, elaborated a strategic framework for UNESCO/NEPAD Cooperation in Natural Sciences which will ensure linkages between the priorities in UNESCO science and technology programmes and those identified in the NEPAD process.


The Fifth Regional Consultation of UN Agencies working in Africa designated UNESCO as lead agency to coordinate an informal group of agencies constituting the science and technology (S&T) cluster. The cluster will engage in a mix of two sets of activities. The first set will focus on the NEPAD’s Science and Technology Initiative aimed at the explicit application of S&T for industrialisation and economic growth. The other will mainstream S&T in other NEPAD initiatives by identifying issues which require S&T research, analysis and capacity building.


UNESCO has been invited by NEPAD as key partner in the establishment of the African Forum on Science and Technology for Development (AFSTD) for promoting the application of science and technology for economic growth and poverty reduction. The Forum is comprised of three segments:

  • Standing Conference of Ministers and Presidential Advisers responsible for Science ad Technology which will transmit its decisions and recommendations to the HSGIC.
  • Eminent Persons Review and Advisory Panel that will set up task forces on priority policy issues
  • Networks of knowledge institutions and communities

As part of this partnership, UNESCO is cooperating with the NEPAD Secretariat in the organization of Ministerial Conferences. The First NEPAD Ministerial Conference, which will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, 3-7 November 2003, is a first step in a process to develop a regional Action Plan on science and technology for development.

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