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G-8 leaders urged to invest in Science, technology in Africa

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Accra, June 8, GNA - The National Science Academies of G8 nations and the Network of African Science Academies on Wednesday, urged leaders of the industrialised world to identify explicit funds for science, technology and innovation capacity building in Africa.

In a statement to the leaders attending the Gleneagles G8 summit in July 2005, the Academies reminded them that without adequate funding for science, technology and innovation, nothing would change on the African continent. They also called for the revitalization of Universities on the continent and to support the development of centres of excellence in science, engineering and technology.

The statement said science and technology issues were familiar to the G8, and that the leaders in their 2003 summit endorsed an action plan for science and technology for sustainable development. It noted that the Commission for Africa report in March 2005 also stressed the need for investment in higher education and centres of excellence, particularly in science and technology. The statement said that as much as there was a clear continuing need for these important initiatives, "We must recognize that investment in a country's own science capacities, alongside the development of merit-based processes and institutions, which are essential to successful use of science and technology in Africa".

The Academics said African countries had to have in place appropriate mechanisms and infrastructure for the training and exploitation of knowledge. The statement said, "This will enable them to formulate meaningful evidence-based policy to adequately address local needs and participate in the international community on science and technology issues". It further stated that for innovation, growth and policy-making in Africa, it was fundamental to promote and develop an environment that encouraged acquisition of knowledge and communication skills for national needs.

The statement stated that science, technology and innovation underpinned success and sustainability in all aspects of international development including poverty alleviation, economic growth as well as health and agriculture in Africa. The science academies noted that Africans must be able to develop, adopt and exploit scientific and technological solutions appropriate to their specific needs or they risked becoming more dependent on advice and assistance from the developed world.

The statement said investment in science and technology was not enough rather capacity development initiatives should be integrated into programmes in specific sectors, saying, health programmes for instance should seek to develop local expertise and resource that could be replicated after the programmes had ended. It stressed on the need for the transfer and sharing of scientific, technology and innovation excellence between the developed and the developing worlds, as well as among developing countries.

The statement said: "It is critical to ensure appropriate networks are in place to enable all nations to share their experiences and best practices". It asked the G8 leaders to continue to keep science, technology and innovation capacity on the agenda of the group in the years ahead, saying, "regular updates at annual summits would help to maintain the momentum for change".

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