Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Africa needs new organisations that support innovation

The scientific community should create a new generation of intergovernmental organisations that promote innovative science to address economic problems in Africa, argues Calestous Juma, professor of the Practice of International Development at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, United States.

Science, technology and engineering are crucial to overcoming challenges in various sectors including health and agriculture. Yet, key international organisations do not encourage the role of innovation in development, says Juma.

For example, sustainable agriculture and food production in Africa will only be possible with biotechnology and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). But, organisations such as the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) have even opposed the use of biotechnology in regions that stand to benefit from it, explains Juma.

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), created by the 1992 Earth Summit to advance fair sharing of the benefits of biotechnology, has limited the use of GMOs.

This is the right time for African countries to "break the logjam" by setting up new international organisations that focus on innovation, writes Juma. He suggests creating an "International Institute for Biotechnology" to help African farmers benefit from technological knowledge.

The International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR), established by scientists and engineers in the early 1900s to promote refrigeration-related technologies, could serve as a model, he says. Like the IIR, the International Institute for Biotechnology would be created with legislative authority from governments and invited agencies.

Link to full article in Science

Republish
We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.