Participants from 40 African countries follow training in collecting and using STI indicators

From 23 to 27 April 2012, participants drawn from nearly 40 African countries attended a training workshop on the collection and use of science, technology and innovation (STI) indicators, in Cape Town, South Africa. Among the participants were experts from ministries responsible for science and technology and national statistical offices. The workshop agenda included discussions on the policy relevance and implications of STI indicators.

The workshop was organized by the Planning and Coordinating Agency of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), in collaboration with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and the South African Department of Science and Technology through its Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators.

The April workshop was part of implementation of the second phase of the African Science Technology and Innovation Indicators (ASTII) Initiative. ASTII is a flagship programme of Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA) adopted by the continent’s science ministers in 2005. In January 2007, Heads of State and Government invited UNESCO to work closely with the African Union and NEPAD Secretariat to implement the CPA.

The overall goal of ASTII is to contribute to improving the quality of STI policies at national, regional and continental levels by strengthening Africa’s capacity to develop and use STI indicators. The ASTII Initiative is supported by resources from participating countries and by a grant from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. The workshop was a key step towards the release of the second edition of the African Innovation Outlook, a continent-wide compendium of statistics on research and development (R&D) produced through ASTII. The first edition of the African Innovation Outlook was released in Addis Ababa in May 2011.

In the Nairobi Declaration adopted on 3 April this year, ministers in charge of STI, finance, planning and education committed to enhancing collaboration with the African Union Commission, UNESCO, UNECA and the African Development Bank for the development of national and regional STI policy instruments, the reform of national STI systems and the promotion STI indicators. The ministers adopted the Declaration at the African Forum on STI for Youth Employment, Human Capital Development and Inclusive Growth, in Nairobi, Kenya.

In the Declaration, the ministers also recalled the commitment of African Union Heads of State and Governments to devoting at least 1% of GDP to research and development. At present, only Tunisia and South Africa have reached this target, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (see graphic).

Since 2008, UNESCO’s Division for Science Policy and Capacity-building and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics have organized a series of sub-regional STI policy reviews in Africa.

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