Improving science, technology in Africa is aim as G-8, African, UN experts convene in Berlin

October 16, 2007

G 8 experts and their African counterparts convene for two days in Germany, Oct. 18-19, to map out specific ways to meet agreed commitments to foster better economic and social conditions in Africa through science and technology (S&T). The meeting advances the initiatives pledged in the declarations of the Gleneagles and Heiligendamm G 8 summits, supporting a strong commitment towards Africa's development.

About 70 experts from nine African nations, the G 8 and several international organizations will assess the state of African S&T and of south-north cooperation, set priorities and schedule specific future actions.

The meeting is jointly organized by the G 8 presidency and AMCOST - the African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology. It is hosted by the two German federal ministries - Education and Research (BMBF) and Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) - in collaboration with the United Nations University (UNU). Participants include high level representatives of AMCOST, G 8 member states, UNU and the European Union, plus observers from the World Bank, UNESCO, IAEA and the OECD.

"The link from science and education investment to economic and social improvement has been proven in both Asia and Latin America," says UN Under-Secretary-General Konrad Osterwalder, Rector of UNU. "Sadly, most of Africa is not in a position to harness science and technology to tackle its endemic problems of poverty, disease, inequity, and environmental degradation. Commitments made to help Africans remedy that must be met swiftly and UNU is honoured to facilitate this landmark meeting between African and G 8 experts."

The meeting was first suggested when G 8 research ministers met their AMCOST counterparts in December 2006 in Leipzig, Germany. Five months later, participants at the World Forum on Science for Sustainable Development, organized by the G 8 and UNESCO in Trieste, Italy, noted promises made at the G 8 Leaders' Summit in Gleneagles, 2005, had been followed by "limited action." The Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) has urged G 8 countries to deliver on the Gleneagles promises.

The Berlin meeting will focus on the most urgent actions needed to implement a "Consolidated Plan of Action," created under the leadership of African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology for the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the African Union (AU).

The plan is based on three pillars: capacity building, knowledge production, and technological innovation.

It identifies a range of research and development priorities - biodiversity, biotechnology, and indigenous knowledge; energy, water, climate, environment and desertification; material sciences, manufacturing, laser and post-harvest technologies; information and communication technologies, and space science and technologies; mathematical sciences; and science, technology and innovation (STI) indicators.

It also set goals for improving African policies and institutions between 2006 to 2010.

Participants in the Berlin meetings will look for ways to:Participants will prioritize short-, medium- and long-term action.

Ideas under discussion for implementation of the Consolidated Plan of Action include:Experiences across Africa with existing funding schemes as well as good and inadequate practices will be reviewed. A flexible funding mechanism will help promote engagement from a wide range of donors (e.g. development banks, bilateral development agencies, foundations, and NGOs).

AMCOST is the overall governance structure for setting continental priorities and policies for the development and application of science and technology. It is instrumental in planning and carrying out the meetings in Berlin.
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United Nations University

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