Reform of Tanzanian science system under way


The reform of Tanzania’s science, technology and innovation (STI) system got under way on 15-16 December 2008 with the first consultation of stakeholders at a workshop in Bagamoyo (Tanzania). UNESCO is heading a team of United Nations agencies and development partners which are accompanying Tanzania in this endeavour, within the One UN initiative. Under this umbrella, UNESCO and government departments and agencies have formulated a series of proposals for a total budget of US$10 million, to be financed from the One UN fund and other sources.

Tanzania is one of the eight pilot countries1 for the One UN initiative launched in 2007 within a broader reform to improve coordination among UN agencies. The programme is inspired by a report submitted to the United Nations by a high-level task force on Delivering as One.

Within the One UN initiative, several UN agencies work together to formulate joint programmes for each pilot country, with funding from mainly the One UN Fund. UNESCO’s participation in the One UN Programme for Tanzania came in response to the request made by the President, His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, for UNESCO’s assistance in conducting a comprehensive review and in repositioning the Tanzanian STI system, in a letter to UNESCO’s Director-General in June 2007.

In August 2007, the heads of UN agencies agreed to UNESCO’s proposal for science components to be included in the One UN programme for Tanzania, in support of the government’s Vision 2025 objective of ‘transform[ing] the economy into a strong, resilient and competitive one, buttressed by science and technology’. In the words of Peter Msolla, Tanzanian Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, to fellow ministers meeting for the High-level Segment of the UN Economic and Social Commission’s meeting on 1 July 2008, ‘without a dose of innovation [in Tanzania], the macro-economic gains achieved over the years through the implementation of sound economic policies would be wiped out.’

Within the One UN programme, UNESCO heads the Innovation and Technology Thematic Area, also involving the World Bank and Finland, whose activities are spread across three Joint Programmes. Under the Joint Programme on Wealth Creation, Employment and Economic Empowerment, UNESCO coordinates the section on policies and plans of action for the explicit integration of STI into the economy. Under the Joint Programme on Capacity Strengthening for Development Management, UNESCO coordinates the section on improving management and governance of the STI system. Under the Joint Programme on Education, UNESCO coordinates the section on strengthening STI capacities in higher education by 2010. During the preparatory phase, UNESCO collaborated with the Swedish International Development Agency and its Department for Research Cooperation (SAREC), as well as with South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology. Tanzanian senior officials travelled to both Sweden and South Africa on study visits.

As head of the Innovation and Technology Thematic Area, UNESCO was responsible for coordinating the formulation of proposals for initial funding. It will now supervise the implementation and decide upon the division of labour between UN agencies, according to whichever are best-placed to implement the various components of the programme elaborated by UNESCO. The programme will be implemented via the Joint Steering Committee on the One UN, co-chaired by the Permanent Secretary for Finance and Economic Affairs and the UN Resident Coordinator in Tanzania.

UNESCO itself will be providing regular programme funding in support of the science reform, particularly through its internal platform on strengthening national research systems. The Organisation will mobilise additional donor support from other countries, including Sweden and Japan.

One of the first projects implemented by UNESCO will harness innovation to developing Tanzania’s tourism industry. Another will establish a UNESCO Chair in a leading Tanzanian university, yet to be identified, for the training of science policy experts.

Based on similar science reforms implemented in developing countries, it is estimated that the full reform in Tanzania will require an investment of US$500 million over the next 10 years.

For details: f.osotimehin(at) - a.maduekwe(at)

See also

The Reform of the S&T System of Nigeria
The Reform of the S&T System of Congo 

1 The others are Albania, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, Uruguay, Vietnam

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