Don't kill the Uganda Millennium Science Initiative
Government indifference threatens to put an end to the Uganda Millennium Science Initiative (MSI) project, says former executive director of the Africa Academy of Sciences, Tom Egwang.
The US$30 million MSI programme, financed by the World Bank and launched in 2006, has made great progress in many areas including malaria vaccines, fisheries, climate change and agri-biotechnology, says Egwang.
But, he claims, "it might not be renewed ... because our government does not care about it anymore".
This is largely because Ugandan science and technology falls under the remit of the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development, which is "full of anti-science technocrats", says Egwang.
As a result, the government has not submitted a funding request for the second phase of the Uganda MSI — despite repeated requests by the World Bank to do so.
"Survival of the fittest ... depends on a competitive and comparable advantage based on ... innovations in science and technology", writes Egwang. The ministry's failure to request funding is "a recipe for disaster", he adds.
Egwang calls for the creation of a Ministry of Science and Technology to "elevate science and technology to where it can be leveraged for development" and warns that all the progress made by the Uganda MSI will come to nothing if no action is taken.