Africa's problems will only be overcome if science and technology are made an integral part of the solution, warned science academies of the G8 group of the world's most industrialised countries and the Network of African Science Academies in a statement issued yesterday (8 June).
"Without embedding science, technology and innovation in development we fear that ambitions for Africa will fail," says the statement.
The statement, signed by the science academies of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, was issued ahead of the annual summit of G8 leaders, which this year is taking place on 6-8 July in Scotland.
The statement emphasises the need to not only invest in science and technology in Africa, but also to increase the continent's ability to solve its own problems by strengthening its higher education sector and helping nations train scientists.
These priorities were identified in the recently published report of the Commission for Africa (see Science capacity 'imperative' for Africa's development).
"Isolated investment in science and technology is not enough," says the statement, "capacity development initiatives should be integrated into programmes in specific sectors."
"A health programme, for example, should also seek to develop local expertise and resources to enable locals to continue to address the issues long after the specific programme has ended."
A press release from the UK science academy, the Royal Society, explains that this means measures such as helping a nation make its own drugs rather than simply providing those needed in the short term.
"An increase in aid for Africa must have the long-term goal of helping Africans help themselves," says Robert May, president of the Royal Society.
He underlined that "one of the most effective ways of helping African nations to help themselves is through building their capacity in science, engineering and technology."
"We would like to see a clear commitment from the G8 leaders to long-term specific investment in developing the science and engineering capacity of African nations, creating high quality science education for boys and girls from school through to university and beyond."
Click here to read the full Joint Academy Statement.