Towards interparliamentary cooperation in Central Africa

The Parliament of Congo and the Congolese National Commission for UNESCO organized a sub-regional symposium on 11 and 12 March 2008, with the technical and financial assistance of UNESCO and the financial contribution of the Islamic Organization for Science, Education and Culture (ISESCO). The theme of the symposium was Science, Technology and Parliament. On 13 March 2008, scientific visits were organized to present Congo's capacities in research and innovation. This was followed by an interparliamentary workshop on 14 March 2008.

Angola, Burundi, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad all participated.

Parliamentarians and civil servants met with scientists and representatives of civil society in the Congolese capital to exchange ideas on how to structure interparliamentary cooperation and train parliamentarians and government officials in science and technology (S&T) policy. The symposium produced a series of recommendations. The participants in the workshop adopted a communiqué and examined and validated concrete project proposals to ensure follow-up.

The symposium and workshop stressed the key role S&T play in the sustainable socio-economic development of the sub-region, as well as the need to accord priority to S&T in national policies encompassing the economy, environment and health, as well as other spheres.

The meetings also set out to specify the institutional means and resources which Parliaments require and the procedures that need to be put in place to ensure that Parliament can exercise legislative control and contribute effectively to the development of S&T-related aspects of public policies.

Another aim was to examine the feasibility of launching a Sub-regional Science Policy Forum. Needs and opportunities for sub-regional cooperation were explored to create a greater synergy between the efforts of Parliaments in different countries. This was accompanied by the drawing up of a training scheme for parliamentarians and managers in the sub-region.

Last but not least, the week-long meeting designed the contours of a sub-regional programme for research, studies, training and evaluation in S&T policy to strengthen the capacities of parliamentarians and decision-makers in science policy-making. In parallel, this programme will contribute to schemes undertaken by players in the public and private sectors in the sub-region.

Promoting sub-regional cooperation

The launch of a sub-regional science policy forum may strengthen the work of the Economic Community of the Central African States (Communauté économique des États de l’Afrique centrale, CEEAC).

It could also contribute to implementation of the Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action adopted by the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) in 2005.

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