The Commission for Africa recognises the key role science and technology have to play in Africa's economic and human development, and has been working to ensure there is significant scientific input and focus in its work.

The commission's consultation document highlights the importance of science and technology and particularly the potential it has to improve health systems and help tackle communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS.

Properly harnessed, science and technology also have the potential to transform higher education and improve Africa's agricultural productivity. Since its inception, the commission has been gathering research on all areas of its work, and has drawn evidence from a wide array of sources, including the Royal Society, the International Development Research Centre, the InterAcademy Council Report and leading figures in the scientific community in the UK, and internationally.

We are now involved in a major consultation process not only in the UK but across the G8 and Africa, which will help us to refine and develop the early ideas in the consultation document (see Commission seeks proposals for African development).

Technology is playing its part here, with the Internet enabling us to seek people's views from all around the world. The online consultation, which is currently underway, has prompted hundreds of responses, with 40 per cent coming from Africa.

We are actively seeking input into our work and particularly welcome the views of the scientific community.

We accept more work will be needed as the commission develops its ideas for the final report, which it will present to the G8 early in 2005 and we look forward to working together with the scientific community over the coming months.

Editor's note:
The deadline for submissions in response to the commission's consultation document is 17 December. Click here for more information.