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African nations would benefit from stronger, more influential science academies, whose expertise could be brought to bear on the continent's pressing issues.

Africa's existing academies may be small and limited in expertise, but this editorial in Nature says one of the main reasons they are not more influential is that they lack the skills needed to communicate effectively with policymakers or the media.

It cites a ten-year project undertaken by the US National Academy of Sciences to strengthen science academies in Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda.

The intention is to replicate the success that science academies in the United Kingdom and the United States have had in advising their governments and raising the level of public debate over controversial scientific issues.

In Uganda, for example, scientists are being trained to work more effectively with media outlets, and regular meetings are being arranged with businesses, government officials and politicians.

But progress can also be made in other countries if scientists are proactive in reaching politicians, the media and the wider public, and if politicians are willing to be convinced of the value of expert scientific input, says the editorial.

Link to full article in Nature