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  • Big gesture but little cash for Nigeria's science academy


[ABUJA] The Nigerian Academy of Science, established in 1977 to promote the growth of science, will receive a US$5 million government grant for the generation and dissemination of scientific knowledge.

The money, allocated by the country's recently elected president, Goodluck Jonathan, will also be used to coordinate work in research institutes and universities, and for capacity building.

The move was announced by Nigeria's minister for science and technology, Mohammed Kaoje Abubakar, at a science policy forum in Lagos (11 May). The academy has lobbied previous governments for money with little success.

The academy's president, Oye Ibidapo-Obe, said the money will go towards the US$63.7 million needed to set up the National Science Foundation (NSF) for research and capacity building for young researchers.

He added that the academy's sources of income include institutional support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through the US national academies, internationally funded projects, donations from Nigerian scientific corporations and membership fees.

Ibidapo-Obe told SciDev.Net in November that he was lobbying the government for US$44.6 million to help set up the National Science Foundation. The academy also needs an annual grant of US$6.3 million for its operations, he said.

A fellow of the academy, Olusegun Adewoye, said that although the grant was small, it was a significant gesture from the new government.

"It is a good thing. It is not enough, but it is a good beginning," he said.

He added that science academies in many countries are powerful because they help to grow their economies, and Nigeria's science academy should do the same.

Ike Abugu, president of the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), called for similar support to help Nigeria's science entrepreneurs.

"While I thank the president for giving them US$5 million, I want to say that the same support should be extended to science- and technology-based small and medium enterprises," he said.

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