Namibia developing national programme for research and STI (2014)

Dr Gladys Kahaka from the University of Namibia used her l’Oréal−UNESCO fellowship in 2012 to study three endangered species, the cheetah, ximenia tree and devil’s claw. © L’Oréal Foundation

Namibia’s newly formed National Commission on Research, Science and Technology has begun developing the country’s National Research, Science, Technology and Innovation (NRSTI) Programme, together with UNESCO. As part of this process, a National Consultative Workshop on the Development of the NRSTI Programme took place on 24−25 March 2014, in the capital, Windhoek.

The three-year National Research, Science, Technology and Innovation Programme will seek to operationalize and instrumentalize the role of research, science, technology and innovation (RSTI) in driving Namibia’s economic development.

Although limited information is available on the RSTI landscape in Namibia today, this programme presents the first coherent attempt to address challenges faced by the country.

 

The focus is not so much on where Namibia is as a nation today in terms of RSTI as where Namibia should be by the end of both this programme and the Fourth National Development Plan, which fixes the country’s economic priorities.

The aim of the programme is to address challenges and opportunities facing the national innovation system by creating an environment more conducive to RSTI in the essential areas of policy, human resources and the institutional framework. Proactive, the programme will forecast future trends, taking a long-term view in order to take advantage of promising areas.

UNESCO, as a development partner in this process, has provided Namibia with technical assistance in developing the programme. UNESCO expert Arturo Menendez conducted consultative meetings with various Namibian stakeholders in RSTI from 24 to 28 February 2014. The main aim of the consultative meetings was to gather input from all stakeholders regarding the development, establishment and implementation of the National Research, Science, Technology and Innovation Programme.

The national consultative workshop held in March aimed to facilitate knowledge-sharing among national and international experts working in fields related to RSTI. It provided a unique platform for researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs to share their views and assist in identifying the national priority fields, taking into consideration other important national documents, such as Namibia’s Industrial Policy, adopted in 2013; its Fourth National Development Plan (2012/13−2016/17) and Vision 2030, adopted in 2004. This platform also gave the scientific community the opportunity to discuss such issues as the challenges the RSTI sector faces and related solutions.

The workshop will pave the way towards the development of an implementation strategy for the National Research, Science, Technology and Innovation Programme.

The National Research, Science, Technology and Innovation Programme stems from the policy directives of the National Policy on Research, Science and Technology of 1999 and is anchored in the Research, Science and Technology Act of 2004.

UNESCO has been accompanying Namibia in the reform of its RSTI system since 2008, within a project for Strengthening Capacity in STI policy in Africa (2008−2014), financed by the Government of Spain. The two main ouputs of this collaboration have been the publication, in 2013, of the Final Draft Procedure Manual for the Operation of the National Research, Science and Technology Fund of Namibia and a proposed model to design an STI information platform for the country, within UNESCO’s GO→SPIN initiative. Both documents were presented to participants in a consultation workshop held on 20 August 2013 in Windhoek in the presence of main national stakeholders in STI.

For details, contact Elzita Beukes, Head of Corporate Communication and Marketing at the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology.

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