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[NAIROBI] The Kenya-based International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) plans to expand its annual budget for Africa from US$12 million to US$18 million in order to boost scientific research at local universities.

The director-general of the institute, Hans Herren, has also suggested that all African governments should provide free Internet and e-mail services to universities,

The 10-year expansion in ICIPE’s programme would provide modern laboratory equipment and training to two Kenyan universities and 26 others in Africa.

“We are aiming at devolving scientific research from ICIPE to local universities to come up with technologies that suit local needs,” Herren said in Nairobi last week at the launch of ICIPE’s 10-year vision and strategy titled Meeting the Needs of Changing World.

He said that African universities, most of which are headed by local people, should be able to develop technologies to tackle the continent's socio-economic problems.

ICIPE has already approached the World Bank, the Ford Foundation and the Dutch government for funds for the proposed initiative. Local universities will be required to submit proposals and requests for inclusion in the programme.

Herren expressed regret that African universities had not invested sufficiently in information technology, noting that the Internet had become essential for exchanging new ideas with scientists and researchers in other parts of the world. “You must adopt this new technology or perish,” he said.

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