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[CAIRO] China has agreed scientific cooperation deals with Algeria and Egypt, news that is widely welcomed by the scientific communities in these countries.

This week (6 November), just days after the China-Africa summit concluded, China's president Hu Jintao signed two deals with the leaders of Egypt and Algeria in Beijing, China.

Under the Egypt-China agreement, the countries will collaborate on research in various scientific and technological fields and set up a common fund to pay for their joint scientific activities.

Information technology, technology transfer, health, traditional medicine, space technology, agriculture and peaceful use of nuclear energy are some of the areas planned for collaboration.

Hassan Abdel Aal Moawad, professor of microbial biotechnology at Cairo's National Research Center, Egypt, welcomes the deal. He says it will help establish a knowledge-based economy in both Egypt and China. 

Moawad, a former president of Alexandria's Mubarak City for Scientific Research and Technology Applications, told SciDev.Net that under the agreement, China will fund a fish-farming laboratory at Suez Canal University in Ismailia, Egypt.

The Algeria-China cooperation plan will encourage scientific and technical exchanges and technological cooperation between companies and entrepreneurs of the two countries in energy and mineral resources research.

Cooperation in sectors such as education, industry, information technology, communications, mechanical engineering, agriculture, water conservation and infrastructure construction will also be boosted.

Sadallah Boubaker-Khaled, professor of mathematics at Algiers' Ecole Normale Supérieure in Algeria, says the plan will help promote science and sustainable economic development in China and Algeria and benefit the countries' scientific and technical communities.

Earlier this month (2 November) China asked Mozambique if it would like to enter a similar deal, whereby China would help implement Mozambique's science and technology development plan.

This would involve joint research and scientist exchange programmes to encourage transfer of practical technology and strengthen e-governance, treatment of HIV/AIDS through traditional Chinese medicine, and development of science parks.