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Leaders in Africa and other developing countries have a wealth of scientific know-how at their disposal compared to their predecessors. The challenge is adapting that knowledge to local markets, writes Calestous Juma.

Juma calls for a "new species of university" that produces entrepreneurs who can "transform ideas into business proposals and actual products and services".

Universities can encourage development by focusing aspects of technical training on specific development needs — for example, Ghana's University of Development Studies offers training to advance its home community's welfare.

Universities could also tap into their expatriates' expertise, although many are hindered by their digital isolation from the rest of the world.

The next step, Juma says, is to translate knowledge into enterprise and find an international market for the resulting goods. Previously this has been hampered by high export tariffs, which have discouraged investment in innovation.

Linking higher education systems to local communities, and establishing a private sector that taps into regional or international markets provides the tools for long-term economic growth, Juma says.

Link to full article in Nature