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[LUSAKA] Zambia's National Science and Technology Council (NSCT) has published a draft legal framework intended to better regulate research and development activities in the country.

"The framework will be used to efficiently and effectively coordinate research activities," said NSCT chair, Silane Mwenechanya, at a 27 July meeting in Lusaka to present the draft to stakeholders, including scientists and business people.

"There is little collated information on the actual research and development activities in the country due to the lack of a cohesive monitoring, evaluation and coordination framework," he added.

The rules are also intended to make researchers more accountable and their activities more transparent.

According to the draft framework, all institutions planning to conduct research will have to register with the NSCT.

The rules will also harmonise the ways different types of research institution currently report to the council. The heads of these institutions will have to review the performance of their research and development activities and provide the council with annual work plans and reports.

The council will periodically inspect research institutions and withdraw their registration in the case of any fraud or misinformation.

Bhola Verma, research manager of the Zambian seed company ZAMSEED, says the framework is necessary, but adds that the government must create a special fund for research and development, and increase the capacity of research institutions, if it expects local researchers to be able to meet the council's requirements.

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