[CAIRO] Egypt has opened a US$10 million centre for transferring technology and promoting innovation-based industrial development among African countries.
The South–South Industrial Cooperation Centre (SICC) was opened this week (1 July) to coincide with the 11th African Union Summit held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, between 30 June and 1 July.
The African Union, the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Egypt's Ministry of Trade and Industry are funding the Cairo-based centre, Hany Barakat, head of technological development sector at the ministry, told SciDev.Net.
SICC is part of a UNIDO scheme to establish South–South cooperation centres in countries that have highly developed technological or industrial capabilities to provide technical support to less advanced countries.
The first centre opened in India in January 2007. A similar centre is to be set up in China, with further centres in Brazil, Iran and South Africa also envisioned.
Barakat says the aim of the centre is to promote South–South cooperation in science, manufacturing, technology and industrial innovation as well as providing assistance to African countries in their efforts to strengthen their scientific, technological and innovative capacities.
He says the centre is a direct action of the African Technology and Innovation Initiative (ATII) that African heads of state approved at the January 2008 African Union Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The initiative will set up five African networks to develop skills and resources at all stages of the industrial manufacturing process, from product design through to certification of international standards and exports.
"ATII aims at changing Africa, which accounts for only two per cent of global manufactured products, from natural resource-based economies towards manufacturing-based economies," says Barakat.
The new centre can be considered the first step towards the establishment of the African network of technology transfer and innovation centres that will serve the African continent, says Barakat. In the future, focal points or branches of SICC could be established in different African countries.
An Arab network for technology transfer and innovation promotion is also being set up, says Barakat. So far, seven countries — Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Tunisia — have joined. The network will help Arab companies improve quality and competitiveness by harnessing science and adopting new technologies, and provide professional training.