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Egypt and Japan have designated 2008 as a year of science and technology cooperation.

Hany Helal, Egypt's minister of higher education and scientific research, announced the plan at the fourth annual meeting of the Science and Technology in Society Forum in Kyoto, Japan, last week (7–9 October).

The Japan–Egypt Year of Science and Technology 2008 will form part of Egypt's decade of science and technology (see Egypt designates a 'decade of science'), and is a bilateral initiative from the Japanese and Egyptian ministries of higher education and scientific research.

The initiative will establish cooperative networks between Egyptian and Japanese scientists and their educational and technological institutions, including Japan's Society for Promotion of Science and the Egyptian Academy of Scientific Research and Technology.

The two countries will organise science conferences and workshops, and exchange staff on joint research projects. Possible topics include preventing and monitoring industrial pollution, and renewable energy technology.

As part of the initiative, Japanese clean energy know-how will help construct a wind farm and a solar energy facility south of Cairo.

A joint programme will train Egyptians in enhanced industrial productivity, with Japanese experts educating Egyptian industrialists about technological upgrades.

The two countries will also set up a Japanese science and technology university in Alexandria. The Egypt–Japan University will foster technological and scientific innovation in the African and Arab region by offering undergraduate and postgraduate science and technology degrees, including information and communications technologies, new materials courses and renewable energy technology.

Magdi Tawfik Abdelhamid, a researcher at Cairo's National Research Centre who obtained his PhD from the Japan-based Gifu University, told SciDev.Net that cooperation between the two countries "is part of Japan's efforts to strengthen dialogue with African countries before the 2008 Tokyo International Conference on African Development."

"Science cooperation will ensure Africa benefits from agricultural and rural development and new technologies, especially information, communications and energy technologies, as well as enhancing the quality of science and mathematics education," he said.