We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.

The full article is available here as HTML.

Press Ctrl-C to copy

[ADDIS ABABA] Rwandan president Paul Kagame has urged fellow African presidents to heed calls by the continent's scientists for increased funding.

He also reminded them of the need to bridge the gap between promised intentions and concrete deeds.

Speaking at the African Union (AU) summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Monday (29 January), Kagame said that "we must be mindful that statements of intent do not remain just that – statements".

Kagame said that the recommendation from African science ministers to set aside one per cent of gross domestic product for science, technology and research was not enough.    

"Is this not too little too late?" he said, adding that countries need to raise the amount but also plan how best to use the money to benefit society.

"Clearly it is not just about investment in science and technology, but also about improving the efficiency of this investment for greater impact on all aspects of national life."

Kagame pointed out that Rwanda was currently spending 1.6 per cent of its gross domestic product on science and technology, but hoped to raise it to three per cent in the next five years.

This would draw it level with spending common in the developed world. The current AU average is less than 0.5 per cent.

He said that African leaders and policymakers "got it right" in 1980 when they insisted that Africa needed to use science and technology as the basis for the continent's socioeconomic development, a commitment expressed in the so-called Lagos Plan of Action.

 "Twenty-seven years later, that statement still rings true," he told the summit.

His comments came shortly after strong pleas to support science and technology were made by Calestous Juma, chairperson of the AU's high-level panel on biotechnology (see African presidents urged to boost science), and the AU commissioner for human resources, science and technology, Nagia Essayed.

Kagame's comments have received wide support among African scientists, many of whom see him as a champion of science and technology across the continent. 

Ghana's president John Kuffor — who was voted next chair of the AU — noted the urgent need for heads of states to work together on issues of science.

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