Call for boost to International Fund for Africa

15 May 2001 - An Ad Hoc Expert Group Meeting on Science and Technology for the Development of the Least Developed Countries has recommended that the UNESCO International Fund for the Technological Development of Africa be strengthened and supported by regional financial institutions to promote innovation through university–industry cooperation.

The Fund was created by UNESCO to finance innovative projects in Africa within the Organization’s Univerty–Industry–Science Partnership (UNISPAR). In recent years, the programme has enjoyed limited funding, despite widespread recognition of the important role public–private sector partnerships can play in developing basic infrastructure.

Paragraph 36 of the Science Agenda recommends that ‘National authorities and the private sector support university-industry partnerships also involving research institutes and medium, small and micro-enterprises, for promoting innovation, accelerating returns from science and generating benefits for all the participants.’

The call for Fund support has gone into the report drafted by the Expert Group at its 12–14 March meeting in New York (USA). The report is being presented this week to the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries taking place in Brussels (Belgium) from 14 to 20 May.

Other Expert recommendations of particular relevance to UNESCO include a call for the Organization to promote technology transfer and innovation in cooperation with regional organizations like the Africa Regional Centre for Technology and the Asia-Pacific Centre for Technology Transfer. UNESCO is also invited to develop appropriate linkages with the Expert Group in conjunction with follow-up to the World Conference on Science.

The Expert Group also urges ‘appropriate bodies and organizations’ to consider the establishment of an African Institute of Technology.

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