Science in Africa: decision time at the summit
African leaders gather in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this week for the African Union (AU) summit. This year's meeting focuses on science and technology, offering a unique opportunity to convey its importance in the continent's development.
In this article in Nature, Michael Cherry explores the issues up for discussion, and what is likely to be agreed.
A meeting of science ministers last November (see Ministers propose 2007 as 'year of science' in Africa) resulted in the Cairo declaration — suggestions for implementing a plan of action for science in Africa, which was drawn up by the African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology.
Leaders at the AU summit are likely to ratify the Cairo declaration, which includes potential funding mechanisms and 'centres of excellence'.
However, no decision was made at the Cairo meeting on how an African science fund should be governed and administered, and it is unlikely that such an agreement will be made in Addis Ababa.
Another bone of contention is where the money will come from. The most that can be expected at the summit would be initial pledges from individual African governments.
Centres of excellence could also be hotly debated, as they will localise funding to some areas in preference to others.
Biotechnology could be an area of agreement, writes Cherry, with a report on priorities for research and biosafety measures up for discussion.
Reference: Nature 445, 356 (2007)