Academies statement



http://www.scidev.net/ms/joint/

    Joint science academies’
statement: Science and Technology for African Development

Science, technology and innovation are familiar issues to
the G8. In 2000 in Okinawa, G8 leaders established a task force to address
the global digital divide, and at the 2003 summit in Evian, G8 leaders
endorsed an action plan for science and technology in sustainable
development. There is a clear continuing need for these important
initiatives.

We would like to stress, more generally, the
fundamental importance of science, technology and innovation in tackling a
wide range of problems facing Africa and other developing regions. The goal
of securing a sustained improvement in the living standards of nations is
highly complex and should be informed by scientists along with economists,
social scientists and other experts in the field of development. At the
heart of this endeavour, alongside issues of governance, security and trade,
lies the capacity of nations to engage with global science and technology.

We, the national science academies of the G8 nations
and the Network of African Science Academies, therefore call on world
leaders, including those meeting at the Gleneagles G8 Summit in July 2005,
to implement the following recommendations without delay. For our part, we
also commit ourselves to working with appropriate partners towards these
urgent goals.

  • Recognise that science, technology and innovation
    underpin success and sustainability in all aspects of international
    development in Africa, including poverty alleviation and economic growth
    as well as in areas such as health and agriculture.

     

  • African countries must be able to develop, adapt
    and exploit scientific and technological solutions appropriate to their
    specific needs, otherwise they risk becoming ever more dependent on advice
    and assistance from the developed world.

     

  • Recognise that investment in a country’s own
    science capabilities, along with development of merit-based processes and
    institutions, are essential to the successful use of science, technology
    and innovation in Africa, and are fundamental to sound policy-making, good
    governance and industrial development.

     

  • African countries need to have in place appropriate
    mechanisms and infrastructure for training and exploitation of knowledge.
    This will enable them to make meaningful evidence-based policy, in order
    adequately to address local needs and participate in the international
    community on science and technology issues.

     

  • Recognise that for innovation, growth and
    policy-making in Africa, it is fundamental to promote and develop an
    environment that encourages knowledge to be produced, communicated and
    applied to a nation’s needs.

     

  • Sustainable national structures and strategies are
    needed to provide and maintain a source of well-trained, knowledgeable
    people, requiring attention at all levels of education from primary to
    tertiary.

     

  • Help revitalise African universities and support
    the development of centres of excellence in science, engineering and
    technology, including African institutes of technology.

     

  • The Commission for Africa report in March 2005, for
    example, stressed the need for investment in higher education and centres
    of excellence, particularly in science and technology.

     

  • Explicitly build development of science, technology
    and innovation capacity into international assistance programmes,
    including those for specific development sectors, and ensure that these
    initiatives are African-led and sensitive to social and cultural
    diversity.

    Isolated investment in science and technology is not enough

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