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[KAMPALA] The World Bank announced last week that it had approved a US$30 milllion loan to support scientific development in Uganda.

The money will help increase the number and quality of scientists produced by Uganda's universities and research centres, and boost the country's scientific and technological productivity in industrial, agricultural and other sectors.

The project is the latest effort from the international Millennium Science Initiative, which promotes the development of world-class scientific talent in developing nations (see Chilean science initiative boosts research output).

Michael Crawford, leader of the World Bank's Millennium Science Initiative team, said in a press release that the project should encourage "talented Ugandan researchers to remain in the country and devote their skills to research and training".

"It will open up opportunities for young Ugandans to make their careers in areas of science, technology and engineering that are critical to national development, while at the same time decreasing the disconnect between academia and the private sector," he said.

The project has three components. The first will fund new undergraduate courses in science and engineering and fund new research centres.

The second will support collaborative research between industry and academia, and sponsor work placements in the private sector for scientists and students.

The third component aims to strengthen key scientific institutions such as the Uganda National Council of Science and Technology, which will run the project.

The project will help the council develop and implement policies to increase Uganda's scientific capacity and the use of science for development.

Investments in the Uganda Industrial Research Institute, meanwhile, will help it market its technological services and encourage uptake by industry.

Peter Ndemere, chief executive of the Uganda National Council of Science and Technology, says the project is likely to begin in September 2006. It must first be approved by Uganda's new cabinet and parliament.