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  • Africa reacts to the G8 communiqués


Scientists, politicians, academics and others from across Africa comment below on the outcomes of the G8 summit. Additional comments, particularly concerning science and development, can be submitted to [email protected].

LAST UPDATED 14 July 2005

Joseph Intsiful
Senior Research Fellow, Center for Development Research, University of Bonn, Germany
Visiting Scientist, The International Center for Theoretical Physics, (ICTP), Italy
Visiting Scientist, Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Ghana

"The G8 announcement to support 'networks of excellence' linking institutions in Africa with those in other countries is very positive. It has come at an opportune time, when such networks badly need funding and political support, both locally and internationally.

But the declaration alone is not sufficient to bring about the desired scientific and technological development in Africa.

We need our African governments to back their words with actions and show much more commitment than they are currently doing. They will need to make some very painful sacrifices to turn this initiative into a success.

Similarly, the G8 will need to turn words into deeds and help us through this very difficult process. They will need to identify reliable and trustworthy partners in Africa with whom they can work to harness the rich human and educational resources of the continent and promote its socio-economic development.

Most importantly, a mechanism must be put in place to monitor the success of the program and ensure that it keeps its focus."

Comments made to SciDev.Net contributor Niagia Santuah

Cornell O. Dudley
Professor, Department of Biology, Chancellor College, Zomba

"The fact that the most severe effects of climate change will be felt in the relatively distant future allows both politicians and the general public not to really take this problem seriously. The G8 leaders are no exception. 

Climate change is already negatively affecting countries' development goals, their environment, their wealth and, in many cases (such as small island states), their ultimate survival.

The immediate goal of bringing real economic and political development to Africa must also be addressed. The continent's poverty, social disintegration in some countries, and poorly managed and wasted resources in others, is not only an African tragedy but also a world tragedy."

Comments made to SciDev.Net contributor Charles Mkoka

Delphin Diasolua Ngudi
Senior researcher, National Nutrition Programme, Ministry of Health, Kinshasa

"The G8 leaders did not back the recommendations of the Commission for Africa, set up by British prime minister Tony Blair in 2004, nor the statement issued in June 2005 by the science academies of the G8 countries and the Network of African Science Academies, nor calls from the fifth African Union summit held in Libya in the last week of June 2005.

These asked for specific action to strengthen science, engineering and technology capacity in Africa by providing up to US$3 billion over ten years to develop centres of excellence in science and technology, as well as providing US$500 million a year over a ten-year period to strengthen African universities.

The G8 closed their ears to these demands and their final communiqué provided Africa with words that were not backed by commitments. Thus, in real terms, African science came away empty-handed.

I hope that this shock will wake Africa up, as its nations must grow up and start realising that they must help themselves.

It is the right time for African countries to improve their universities and create scientific strategies based on partnership with, not charity from, the West.

This can be done through organisations such as the African Union, the Arab League, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the Association of African Universities, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Association of Arab universities, and so on.

African countries must join forces to get science and technology to the top of their agenda for development, and seek funds and support within the continent. They must increase the budget devoted to research and higher education, and decrease military spending.

This would help solve the funding problem, stimulate researchers and help tackle the brain drain."

Comments made to SciDev.Net contributor Wagdy Sawahel

Ampah Kodjo Christophe Johnson
Senior lecturer and head of the earth sciences department, University of Lomé, Togo

"The G8 communiqués on Africa, science and development seem promising in some respects. But decisions are not everything. What Africa needs is for the decisions to be implemented immediately.

African universities have many centres of excellence with several good projects, but they do not know where to find appropriate funding. The G8 must get closer to these centres and give them clear information and guidance about the range of existing possibilities.

Research and development financing should not focus only on centres of excellence. Other organised bodies close to communities can also play a major role, provided they receive micro-financing to conduct their work, mainly in the areas of poverty reduction and health.

And to ensure help allocated to Africa is used appropriately, G8 leaders should really support the implementation of democratic structures.

Concerning aid to education, G8 leaders should insist on the basic and ongoing training of teachers and lecturers. They should also help researchers and lecturers update their bibliographies of scientific references by promoting affordable and accessible online libraries, just like those used by scientists in the North."

Comments made to SciDev.Net contributor Gisèle Dodji Dovi

Jean-Philippe Thomas
Research Coordinator, ENDA Energy, ENDA Tiers Monde, Dakar, Senegal

"I think the only positive result is the resumption of a dialogue with the United States. Apart from that, I can't see any commitment, any specific agenda. Worse, in their communiqué they consider climate change as a long-term issue, but it is now imperative that steps are taken to respond to the urgent needs of the poorest populations.

It is critical for the G8 countries to adhere to the Kyoto Protocol with firm commitments and an agenda but the United States will not find this politically acceptable.

African science leaders have to be present in international debates (particularly in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC) and at the national level, to explain the scientific points of the convention on climate change to the public and policymakers, and also to contribute to the measures and policies that need to be set up."

Comments made to SciDev.Net contributor Gisèle Dodji Dovi

Syda Bbumba
Energy and Mineral Development Minister

"Uganda wants the G8 to increase funding to Uganda's energy sector. This will enable Uganda to further develop clean energy sources such as hydro-, solar- and geothermal power — all of which are in abundance but still inadequately tapped.

Although we want the G8 countries to use cleaner energy just like Uganda wants to, we also want them to increase the Global Environment Facility's carbon credit fund, to enable us to do more in forest plantations and to expand rural electrification.

Uganda has received US$5 million from the Global Environment Facility for rural electrification. We are in our fourth year out of ten, but the money is not enough. Our companies need more subsidies from the carbon credit fund to implement the government's rural electrification programme."

Comments made to SciDev.Net contributor Peter Wamboga-Mugirya

Jeje Odongo

Minister of State for Environment, Ministry of Water, Lands and Environment

"Uganda expects the G8 to endorse and implement programmes that reduce greenhouse gas emissions — not only in their own countries but by supporting Africa to do the same — because environmental issues are trans-boundary and we are already suffering the effects of massive fossil fuel use by developed countries.

Lacking trained scientific and technical manpower and with poor capacity in technology, Uganda cannot adapt to the effects of greenhouse gas emissions in the G8 countries.

Like most African countries, Uganda is a signatory of the Kyoto protocol and expects all countries to endorse it, particularly the G8 — first and foremost, because they are the world's biggest emitters.

But we also want them to support us by removing all agricultural subsidies for their farmers so that exports from African countries can compete with theirs under a fair trade regime. This would let us build strong economies and the scientific and technological capacity to exploit our immense natural resources more rapidly, carefully and sustainably."

Comments made to SciDev.Net contributor Peter Wamboga-Mugirya

Lloyd Thole

Manager of technical department, National Science and Technology Council

"The National Science and Technology Council welcomes the G8 pledge to support 'centres of excellence' in African science and technology institutions, but words must be backed by action.

The resolution is only positive if the G8 countries stick to it by allowing assistance to flow. If they do not, it will spell doom for the continent as far as the development of science and technology is concerned.

It is worrying that the G8 leaders have not been specific about the amount of money they intended to provide to support African centres of excellence."

Comments made to SciDev.Net contributor Michael Malakata

Juliana Chisupa
Deputy science and technology minister

"I am confident that the G8 will meet its obligation to provide substantial financial aid to Africa's science and technology institutions.

The G8 resolution gives Africa hope that we are moving in the right direction, one that will see our learning institutions develop to acceptable standards.

It also makes me happy to learn that the G8 will support networks linking African institutions with those in other countries."

Comments made to SciDev.Net contributor Michael Malakata

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