26 May 2011 | EN | FR
African research sector is still dominated by men
[ADDIS ABABA] A major pan-African science, technology and innovation (ST&I) survey, aimed at mapping the state of research to help with policymaking, was released yesterday (24 May).
The 'Africa Innovation Outlook 2010', prepared by the African Science and Technology Indicators Initiative (ASTII) and launched at its workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, covers 19 countries from across the continent and aims to plug an information gap on the state of science in Africa.
"We have to build the capacity within our continent for our people not only to collect data but to analyse these data and transform them into what we can use for policy formulation," Estherine Lisinge Fotabong, environment advisor at the New Partnership for Africa's Development's Planning and Coordinating Agency — which runs the ASTII initiative, told SciDev.Net.
"The survey is very significant to the socio-economic transformation of Africa. It is a significant step in our quest to develop."
The report has six chapters, dealing with economic and human development challenges for ST&I; research and development (R&D) activities; innovation; bibliometric analysis of scientific output; and recommendations to address the challenges identified in it.
It says that Africa's share of global science continues to decrease, and for it to be become more competitive it "will require greater investment in human capital development, the strengthening of scientific institutions and equipment, as well as significantly higher funding for science".
The sector is dominated by academics from major universities and, since the 1990s, there has been a shift in research focus from agricultural science to medicine.
The survey also found that innovation is pervasive in companies but, instead of coming from the ideas of public research institutions and universities, it is driven by clients' and customers' ideas and collaboration, as well as the acquisition of new machinery and equipment. The main barriers to innovation were costs, domination by established enterprises, lack of information on technologies and markets, and lack of qualified staff.
Only three surveyed countries — Malawi, Uganda and South Africa — spent above one per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on R&D, a target endorsed by the African Union (AU) in 2006. The other ten countries surveyed on R&D activities spent below 0.5 per cent of GDP.
The participation of women in R&D is high in several countries, for example in Tanzania and South Africa it is over 40 per cent, followed by Mozambique and Uganda.
"The information will be useful for socio-economic development — it will make reliable statistical data readily available and hopefully also serve as a wake-up call," said Razak Sanusi, of Nigeria's National Bureau of Statistics.
The ASTII initiative includes 19 countries: Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The report was funded by the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency.
The ASTII data will be stored by the African Observatory for Science, Technology and Innovation, in Equatorial Guinea.
Link to executive summary [363kB]
Nawaz Sharif ( United States of America )
29 May 2011
Technological innovation based on carefully targeted S&T linked with R&D for “Goods and Services” production that can earn money in the globally competitive marketplace is essential for sustainable economic development of all countries. You may be interested to visit my blog on technological innovation: http://mns-technologicalinnovation.blogspot.com/
Lucas ( United States of America )
6 June 2011
I greatly admired the report on Africa's Science and the effort to put the continent on a quest to fulfill its innovation gap. However, the report is short on details. I believe that the best report should have detailed Africa's indigenous scientists as Principal Investigators (PIs), the level of grants they have or command, and the areas of research they are engaged in. My belief is that Science in Africa is being HIJACKED. Like the old colonial mentality, it is being dominated by FOREIGN scientists. Sponsoring organizations DO NOT trust Africans with their money PERIOD! I know of very few saints in India or China, either, except mother Teresa!?! While the South-South link is a good start, it is creating dominance of Africa's science by scientists from developing countries who may be afraid of North-South competitions. On the same token, it should have been fair for the report to outline the benefits of Africa's science to creation of industries, jobs and opportunities for local economies. Looking at the pharmaceutical industry, which should be Africa's blood line, it is dominated by Indian and Chinese not to mention Western companies. This is a very good area for African scientists to help create local industries for the benefit of its people both towards providing cures for local diseases but also jobs and opportunities for young entrepreneurs.
My hope is that Africa's science will be spearheaded by local scientists for the benefit of its young talents. We in Africa need to evolve our own science that will be geared towards solving our local problems, in the same line as other developing countries like Indian, Brazil and China have done. Outsiders can help but they must STOP DOMINATING!!!!
Muthoni Kibandi ( Kenya )
3 November 2011
Only Africans can understand their problems and get dependable and lasting solutions.There is need to extend research output to social impact for real change to be effected. Packaging results in ways concerned societies will consume is key and information scientists need to take up their role working alongside scientists. Lucas you are right and the dominators will only keep off when we stop begging!!! The BRIC countries were with us and they shifted gear and see where they are. We are turning to them to BEG again! Africa arise.
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