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[MOMBASA] A forum for African women in science and technology was amongst the resolutions agreed by the African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology (AMCOST) at their meeting in Mombasa, Kenya, last week (16 November). 

The forum will establish a network and set up mechanisms to bring together women participating in science and technology and coordinate their activities and initiatives; encouraging further cooperation, networking and collaboration.  It will also look for ways to increase the number of female students studying science.

Ministers attending the conference also voted for a consolidated intellectual property rights framework, and encouraged member states to use it to develop their own regulations to protect individual and community rights and traditional knowledge. 

They agreed that the AMCOST bureau should work with the African Union (AU) commission and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) to better implement the Consolidated Plan of Action for science (see Support urged for US$160m plan for African science). 

Ministers resolved that member states, Africa's regional economic communities — such as the Economic Community of West African States — and other stakeholders should incorporate aspects of the plan at local, national and regional levels. They also agreed to establish better links between their flagship projects, like the strengthening and networking of Africa's gene banks, and development and poverty reduction programmes. 

"The resolutions passed today show that Africa is now seriously moving towards using science, technology and innovation as a tool for socioeconomic, cultural and geographical development of the continent," said Venâncio Massingue, Mozambican Minister for Science and Technology. 

Umar Bindir, director of technology acquisition and assessment at Nigeria's Federal Ministry of Science and Technology said that by using science, technology and innovation, Africa will one day be able to industrialise and contribute finished products, rather than just raw materials, to the global market — which would have positive benefits for reducing poverty.