If African countries want to strengthen the role of science and innovation in their development, they must have robust advisory institutions, argues Calestous Juma in this Business Daily article.
Such institutions should serve all sections of government, including the heads of regional economic bodies, national presidents, prime ministers, government ministers and mayors of major cities.
Other countries' advisory systems often reflect the character of the economic system they serve, and grow in complexity with development. They range from individual scientific advisors to panels of experts or issue-specific agencies. But all, Juma says, can provide key lessons for Africa.
Advisory bodies must have a legal mandate to provide advice to government and protect it from political interference. They must have their own budget to support research, and be given access to credible sources of scientific and technical information.
Advisory bodies should also be accountable to the public and make efforts to obtain public opinion, concludes Juma.