Central African states to enact science plan
Central African countries' position on science and technology was brought in line with that of the rest of the continent last week.
Science ministers from the region who met in Cameroon on 26-27 September said they would implement Africa's Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action.
The plan was endorsed last September (see Support urged for US$160m plan for African science) and will be the focus of discussions at the next African Union summit in January 2007 (see AU summit 2007).
Central African nations have so far lagged behind other countries in implementing the plan. By contrast, the Southern African Development Community has met several times to agree ways of enacting it, and according to the Cameroon Tribune, West African countries plan to meet next month to agree their strategy.
At the close of last week's meeting Cameroon's minister of scientific research and innovation Madeleine Tchuinte said Central Africa was ready to follow the plan.
John Mugabe, scientific advisor to the New Partnership for Africa's Development, told SciDev.Net: "The emphasis was on countries starting to put in place science and technology policies and strategies" with the support of the African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology (AMCOST).
He said the Central African ministers also promised to invest and contribute to national, regional and continental science and technology programmes.
This, said Mugabe, will eventually take place through a new African Science and Innovation Facility (see Africa-wide facility to fund science takes shape). But even before this is created, countries will contribute to creating regional 'networks of excellence'.
Cameroon was applauded for the example it set earlier this year when it gave US$100,000 to a regional biosciences facility launched in 2004 (see Biosciences facility for east and central Africa opens).
The ministers chose the Central Africa Republic, Congo and Equatorial Guinea to represent the region at AMCOST and agreed to meet annually to monitor progress.
Other resolutions included creating a database of scientists in the region to help build collaborative projects, and developing intellectual property regimes to support the use of science and technology for development.