If African governments are to integrate science and technology into the economy, they must reorganise government structures, argues Calestous Juma in Business Daily Africa.
Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika recently merged the education and science and technology ministries (see Malawian president merges education and S&T), and placed the new ministry under his control.
Juma applauds the move, saying science, technology and engineering should play a regular part in policy making. Showing leadership in these areas, as well as encouraging innovation, is essential in renewing Africa's economy, he says.
Science advisory positions, with access to the highest levels of government, need to be officially legislated, according to Juma.
The advisors should be supported with funds for policy research and have access to credible scientific and technical information from national and international institutions. They should also be accountable to the public.
African governments must also build competence in science and technology policy throughout the civil service, which may require specialised study.