The African technology path to be reviewed

An 8-member panel established last month is expected to guide the AU through the review of CPA’s (the Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action) achievements and failings, and later present its findings to a ministerial conference in Brazzaville, Congo in November.

Berhanu Abegaz, executive director of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), urged the panel to insist on appropriate policies to promote science, technology and innovation adding that it is difficult to get rid of poverty unless an inclusive innovation, involving the people in poverty, is implemented.

Ismail Serageldin, director of Egypt’s Library of Alexandria, said they are not just producing a document but their focus will be on contributing to a movement as well as get heads of state and government to serve as champions.

He added that the recommendations made should prioritize promotion of skills and practices needed for economic development and focus on putting forward products generated from indigenous knowledge.

According to Shem Wandiga, managing trustee at the Centre for Science and Technology Innovations, Kenya, the AU member states’ rich natural and mineral resources being misused by foreigners and sold at low prices should have their value increased to help develop middle level economies.

Value to the resources cannot be added without adopting and adapting science, technology and innovations, he said.

CPA officially authorised by AU heads of states and governments in 2006, was aimed to turn African countries from resource-based to innovation-led knowledge economies.

CPA’S has had a few achievements such as the African Science and Technology Indicators Initiative, which for the first time in Africa published a survey of science and innovation, and also the creation of prizes such as the AU Scientific Awards programme. Its failures were in the coordination of science aid and also in the set up of an African Science fund.

Established on July 9, 2002, AU is made up of 54 countries. It was formed a as a successor of the OAU organization of African Unity. The union’s objectives include promotion of unity and solidarity among African States.

In 2005, science ministers in the African union (AU) set up a high level road map of scientists to bring new innovative ideas in its path.

The achievements of AU remain hidden because of lack of assessment. The body needs a group of experts to help it take stock and suggest its next step, according to Calestous Juma, professor at Harvard University and a co-chair of the new panel.

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