Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 21 April–4 May 2011

The network will help test seed quality and share resources Copyright: Flickr/Global Crop Diversity Trust

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Below is a roundup of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 21 April-4 May, 2011.

Tanzania to triple research funds
A decision by the Tanzanian government to more than triple research funding in the next financial year — to Sh100 billion (around US$66 million) — has been hailed by The Citizen newspaper, which says it demonstrates commitment to addressing the country’s socio-economic problems through research and appropriate answers. "Research is a vital tool for unlocking new potential and opening the doors to innovation to improve the quantity and quality of production in the various sectors," the newspaper said. More>>

Africa gets seed testing network
African farmers and seed companies could soon benefit from a network of seed testing facilities established by the African Union and the African Seed Network with support from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Nairobi-based Forum for Africa Seed Testing — announced last week (28 April) — will promote testing of seed quality and will push for faster implementation of laws to harmonize the seed production sector. It will also help African laboratories share technical innovations and seed collections, and promote some important African food crops.

Pan-African astronomical society launched
A pan-African astronomical society was launched in South Africa last month (14 April). The African Astronomical Society (AfAS) will aim "to be the voice of the astronomy profession in Africa in order to promote and support research on the continent and to facilitate the use of astronomy in addressing the challenges faced by Africa". Although the society has been welcomed by astronomy institutions worldwide, there are still challenges ahead. "One issue is that, although computers are ubiquitous across Africa, high-speed Internet is not," said Hakeem Oluseyi, interim president of the society. More>>

HIV vaccine trial starts in South Africa
Research to establish whether a vaccine can stem progression of disease in people already infected with HIV has started at the University of Limpopo. The study will have 200 volunteers aged 18–45. The Phase II clinical trial, of the vaccine candidate TAT, will investigate the safety of the product and whether it generates an immune response. "This is a protein that is produced by the virus. It’s a very important regulatory protein in the development of the disease," said Maphoshane Nchabeleng, the principal investigator. More>>

Invest in research, science and innovation to develop, Kenya told
Without further investments in science and innovation, Kenya will fail in its long-term economic objectives, outlined in Vision 2030, according to Shaukat Abdulrazak, chief executive of the National Council for Science and Technology. "The country allocates a paltry 0.3 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product to science and innovations and this is not enough to stimulate economic growth to the levels expected to achieve Vision 2030," he told the participants at the World Intellectual Property Day event in Nairobi last week (27 April). H
e also called upon academics to focus their findings on how to stimulate economic development of the country, instead of publishing work which ends up gathering dust on shelves. More>>

Africa needs to deal with health impacts of climate change
Africa needs to deal with the health consequences of climate change, said African Union (AU) commissioner for Social Affairs, Bience Gawanas, at the 5th Conference of African Union Ministers of Health in Windhoek. Climate change has an impact on the environment, she pointed out, which in turn affects human health in areas such as water– and food-borne illness and nutrition, heat-related morbidity and mortality, neurological diseases and syndromes and water-related morbidity and mortality. More>>

Rwanda to use ICTs to strive for knowledge–based economy …
Rwanda has started a programme delivering community services through Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The National ICT Plan (NICI 3), to run from 2011–2015, is mainly aimed at moving the country from an agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based one. ‘NICI 3’ will accelerate service delivery and advance the country’s development. More>>

… And Nigerian president urged to use ICTs more
Stakeholders in the information and communication technologies (ICTs) sector have urged Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, to prioritise the use of ICT in solving the myriad problems facing Africa’s most populous country. The president of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, Chris Uwaje, said that in all sectors of the economy, including agriculture, oil and gas, trading, manufacturing and banking, ICT was a change agent that could be used in solving the nation’s problems. More>>

Compiled by Ochieng’ Ogodo.

If you would like to suggest a story for this news in brief, please contact the Africa News Editor Ochieng’ Ogodo (Ochieng.Ogodo@scidev.net).