Despite advocating the importance of science and technology (S&T) to drive economic growth, Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has done little to improve S&T infrastructure, says Glenn E. Schweitzer.
He has been hindered by government bureaucracy that does not buy into his vision of putting S&T at the heart of development.
A more favourable policy environment is needed, says Schweitzer, as is a stronger human resource base. But the education system inherited from the USSR has deteriorated and Kazak youth rarely pursue science careers at home.
Nazarbayev is planning to build a new technological university in Astana to improve the situation. But, says Schweitzer, the US$100 million allocated to the project is woefully inadequate.
He suggests that an endowment of US$1 billion to support faculty salaries and tuition-free engineering students as well as a policy of zero-corruption would make more of a difference.
So would putting a few well-trained young S&T advocates in government and leadership positions in universities and research institutes.