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[ADDIS ABABA] African leaders have designated 2007 as the 'year for scientific innovations'. It is hoped that the declaration will raise the profile of Africa's innovative capacity.

The year will be formally launched in July at an extra-ordinary summit in Accra, Ghana to discuss advanced science such as nuclear technology and space science.

African Union (AU) president Alpha Konare said the declaration would help Africa in its quest for self-sustenance, insisting that the continent lagged behind the rest of the world technologically.

"In July, we will celebrate Africa's industrialisation and we shall launch the year 2007 to celebrate Science and technology in Africa," he told the opening session of the AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia yesterday (29 January).

African scientists attending the summit hailed the declaration, saying it would make people more aware of innovation, as most are largely unaware of the continent's innovative capacity.

Stephen Agong, executive director of the Nairobi-based African Academy of Sciences, said: "Declaring the year for science innovations is an important beginning but will require strong backing so that good showcases and practical scientific work is brought to the people's attention."

However, he warned that the continent would continue to lag behind without strong political backing from the highest levels of political leadership in Africa.


Read more about the AU summit in SciDev.Net's dedicated news focus.