Building capacity in STI policy in West and East Africa in 2010-2011

In order to support Member States in West and East Africa in building capacity in STI policy to drive sustainable development, UNESCO’s Nairobi office ran two major sub-regional workshops in 2010-2011.

The first workshop in Accra, Ghana, from 27 September to 1 October 2010, targeted seven countries of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS): Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo. It followed up the ECOWAS Science and Technology Experts Meeting in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, three months earlier. The Accra workshop was facilitated by the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Ghana, in partnership with the World Bank offices in Accra and Washington and the UNESCO Office in Accra. The workshop drew over 40 participants and observers from these countries: policy-makers, parliamentarians, academics, development partners, scientists, engineers and innovators.

The second workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, over two days in October 2011, followed a similar format. It targeted three countries in East Africa, namely, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, and was run in partnership with the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS) based in Nairobi.

Both training workshops were very timely, with post-war countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone being in the process of developing national STI policies for incorporation in their national development agenda. Other countries such as Benin, Kenya, Rwanda and Togo were at different stages of review or policy formulation, whereas Ghana and Uganda had national policies which needed monitoring and evaluation to assess their impact on increasing each country’s competitiveness.

By training policy-makers, academics/researchers, parliamentarians, private sector practitioners and development partners as trainers, that aim was to create a critical mass of STI policy experts to advise, review, implement, advocate, monitor and evaluate STI policy, while driving various countries’ STI agenda for sustainable development.

As there is also a need to create networks or centres of excellence that can act as sustainable hubs for present and future work in STI policy, the workshops also trained trainers in how to harness multidisciplinary human resources and institutions to this end.

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The workshops set out to:

The workshops set out to:

  1. assess the policy environment for application and development of the STI in the selected countries;
  2. provide training for trainers in STI policy formulation, implementation, monitoring and review;
  3. provide a methodological framework for STI policy training and monitoring;
  4. review survey instruments for regional mapping of STI policy and governance;
  5. develop in-country action plans/road maps for national STI policy implementation;
  6. establish a sub-regional network and strengthen collaboration in STI policy formulation and governance.

The workshops took the following approach:

Assessment of Policy Environment for the Application and Development of STI

Participants were encouraged to develop a draft document emanating from the analysis of the policy environment of their country using the UNESCO policy mapping instrument. Assessment indicators include existing infrastructure for STI application and development, human resource development, commercialization of research output, investment and the country’s competitive advantage, among others. These country assessments were collated and partly analysed during the workshop. They formed the basis for policy formulation and plans for monitoring and review. This was particularly so for the ECOWAS countries.

Methodological framework (Manual) for STI Policy Training and Monitoring

This served as a reference document to facilitate training in STI policy development, implementation and monitoring through learning by doing.

Training for STI Policy Formulation, Monitoring and Evaluation

The formulation of STI policy requires some expertise and competence. There is also a need to put an effective monitoring and evaluation system in place to ensure effective implementation. The aim of the workshop was to develop this capacity through innovative delivery systems and modelling.

Provide Advocacy for National STI Policies

There is a need to popularize the national STI policies in the respective countries as a way of gaining public interest and support. Participants were trained in how to utilize mass communication strategies to engage key actors in the print and electronic media in popularizing STI policies. This training was conducted by the Communications Director of the World Bank Office in Accra in the case of the ECOWAS meeting.

Establish and/or Strengthen Centres of Excellence in STI Policy

The workshops trained trainers in how to harness multidisciplinary human resources and institutions to strengthening centres and networks of excellence in STI policy in the sub-region. The aim was to foster the establishment of a competent institution as a hub for present and future work in STI policy. The Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Ghana and the African Technology Policy Studies (ATPS) in Kenya were identified as institutions having the capacity to assist in ensuring the sustainability of such capacity-building in West and East Africa respectively.

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Output of the Accra and Nairobi workshops

Output of the Accra and Nairobi workshops

The workshops achieved the following:

  1. Existing national STI policies and strategies were reviewed and the planning capacities strengthened of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Togo and Uganda.
  2. A framework for draft national STI policies was developed by participants at the end of each workshop, including strategies and monitoring plans.
  3. Using the STI policy assessment tools, national data on STI indicators were developed and STI policy gaps identified and compared with the targets fixed by the government in policy statements and other documents, as well as those of the Millennium Development Goals and Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action.
  4. A methodology and tools are developed for planning and needs analysis. In each country, these will be made available to the appropriate National Development Planning Commissions, ministries responsible science and technology, Office of the President. They will also be made available to UNESCO and its partners for dissemination to similar institutions in Member States.
  5. Training manuals and templates for data collection, policy formulation and planning were reviewed prior to dissemination.
  6. In the case of ECOWAS, a communiqué was drafted and circulated to stakeholders and partners.

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Situation analysis of ECOWAS Member States and next steps

Situation analysis of ECOWAS Member States and next steps

The presentations by experts and trainees from the seven ECOWAS countries brought to the fore three distinct groups of countries:

  1. those that have a national STI policy (1)
  2. those with incomplete, dysfunctional or outdated STI policies per sector (2) and;
  3. those without any STI policy at all (6).

One of the main challenges these countries face is the limited capacity in STI policy formulation and implementation and the non-existence of cooperation between ECOWAS states as far as STI is concerned. It was thus decided at the Accra workshop to draft a communiqué at the end of the workshop for presentation to UNESCO, the ECOWAS Commission, national governments and development partners outlining avenues for collaboration and action.

ECOWAS invited UNESCO to:

  • provide technical assistance to the policy formulation process and continue to organize relevant workshops to attain specific objectives in this regard;
  • share best practices in STI policy formulation and implementation;
  • assist in harmonizing STI management systems in ECOWAS countries;
  • support the establishment of UNESCO chairs in institutions of higher learning to enhance capacity building in STI;
  • champion the adoption of STI policies in African countries within the framework of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF); and
  • pursue support for the development and implementation of STI policies within the framework of regional integration processes on the continent, given that Africa is one of UNESCO’s two global priorities, along with gender.

With regard to STI policy formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, the workshop concluded with the ECOWAS Commission undertaking to partner with UNESCO to improve capacity and with the trainees committing to forming a regional network to facilitate active collaboration in these areas.

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Conclusion

Conclusion

There is a need for UNESCO to continue providing technical support for the ten countries which attended these two workshops. UNESCO can take the lead in some areas, especially as concerns capacity-building in science, technology and engineering education, STI policy formulation, mapping, monitoring and evaluation and issues related to biodiversity, hydrology and climate change. It will also be essential for UNESCO to drive the UNDAF agenda for assisting Member States in developing national STI policy to enhance governance and sustainable development.

The organization of the UNESCO/STEPRI and UNESCO/ATPS training workshops described above were timely and appreciated by all participants. They re-affirmed the need for many more people in the sub-regions to be trained, in order to develop a critical mass of experts in STI policy and governance. The workshops acknowledged the important role UNESCO must play in facilitating the harnessing of STI for sustainable development, in order to increase Africa’s competitiveness in the global economy.

Contacts were made at the workshops with key donors and other development partners, especially the World Bank, which would like to partner with UNESCO in the areas of capacity -building and networking in basic and engineering sciences and STI policy. The details of such a collaboration and partnership still need to be worked out, in order to assert UNESCO’s role as an expert agency in science, engineering and technology for sustainable development and increase UNESCO’s visibility in this area. The workshops also offered UNESCO the opportunity to consolidate the areas of emphasis proposed in UNESCO’s priority agenda for Africa for 2012-2013.

In the workshops organized in Accra and Nairobi in 2010-2011, UNESCO trained 50% more people in STI policy formulation and review, implementation, monitoring and evaluation than the benchmark fixed by Member States, with the possibility of a cascading effect when these trainers embark on in-country training. The workshops also had the advantage of fine-tuning the STI mapping tool developed by UNESCO. Last but not least, the interaction and group work enhanced collective decision-making and collaboration while sowing the seeds for stronger sub-regional and South

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For details, contact the UNESCO co-ordinator at UNESCO’s Nairobi office

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