AU seeks greater engagement from science ministers
[ADDIS ABABA] The African Union has agreed to increase the number of ministers required to vote on binding resolutions for science and technology, ministers agreed on Friday (26 January).
The move follows poor attendance of a meeting of the Africa Ministers of Science and Technology in Cairo, Egypt last year. The Cairo meeting passed several important resolutions on science and technology, but 27 of the 53 member states of African Union (AU) failed to send their ministers.
Meeting at the AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the executive committee of the AU decided that, in future, the number of national representatives required to be present before passing a binding resolution should be changed from a simple majority to 56 per cent of AU member states.
According to Nagia Essayed, AU commissioner for human resources, science and technology, poor attendance in Cairo resulted from a lack of travel funds in some countries and the fact that others simply do not have a ministry of science.
Whilst recognising that science and technology is an imperative issue for the AU, Essayed said that when there is a low quorum in ministerial meetings, attendees “cannot delay” discussion and agreement on issues until there are enough participants.
She added that the AU commission was already seeking to persuade member governments to allocate more funds to their ministries of science and technology.
AU spokesperson Habiba Mejri Cheikh pointed out that despite a poor turnout of science and technology ministers at the AU summit, their views had been represented in the Cairo meeting report and were also expressed by ministers on the executive committee.
Friday’s meeting of the executive committee, made up of Africa’s foreign affairs ministers, also sought to encourage the formation of science and technology ministries in all African governments.