In response to your editorial G8 leaders must help African science help itself, the realisation that science and technology play a crucial part in African development is welcome, as is the recognition that the chief initiative in this must come from Africa itself.

However, one way in which the United Kingdom and other European countries can help is to make it easier to include African researchers and organisations as equal partners in research projects funded by these governments.

At present, funding opportunities that allow the participation of developing countries seem limited to a small subset labelled 'development aid'. Often, the real aim of projects that are funded in this way is the export of technology and knowledge, rather than true research collaboration. 

While there is nothing wrong with knowledge and technology transfer in themselves, the way forward must surely be through a two-way flow of information, ideas and initiatives. This will ensure that research efforts address real needs and interests, taking account of local conditions in all the countries involved. Equal partnerships will allow all partners to gain more from their efforts.