[LUSAKA] The Zambian government has published the first national development plan to include a chapter on science and technology.
Science ministry officials welcome the government's recognition that science has a role to play in national development, but have expressed concern that the plan allocates too little money to the sector.
The 2006-2010 plan unveiled on 24 July is the country's fifth, but its first since 1990.
It identifies priorities such as training researchers, improving working conditions to keep scientific talent in Zambia, and providing tax breaks to encourage the private sector to invest in research and development.
The plan also includes programmes for popularising science and improving Zambia's research infrastructure.
Under the plan, Zambia will train 308 scientists to postgraduate level and refurbish 287 laboratories and lecture theatres in schools and universities by 2010.
Paul Zambezi, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Vocational Training says the inclusion of science in the plan is a major breakthrough that will allow the country's science activities to be centrally coordinated.
But the ministry's chief science and technology officer Dorothy Mulenga points out that the plan allocates only 83.2 billion kwacha (US$23 million) — 0.3 per cent of its overall budget — to science and technology activities.
She urges the private sector to do more to support science in Zambia.Zambezi told SciDev.Net that the cabinet is likely to approve the plan before the parliamentary and presidential elections in December.