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Money woes undermine pan-African science guidance

last modified Jul 12, 2018 03:35 PM
Africa’s persistent lack of research funding could jeopardise the goals of a planned declaration outlining universal guiding principles for science on the continent, a Euroscience Open Forum, held in Toulouse, France, heard recently.

The Cape Town Declaration, a document that aims to nail down how science can contribute to African policymaking, must be accompanied by increases in funding for scientific research, the Euroscience Open Forum heard on 10th July 2018.

This is because science can only contribute to policymaking if it is actually taking place, a panel of experts was told by members of the audience that included distinguished scientists and activists from the global South. They criticised what they perceived to be an ethics-only declaration.

“I do not see any commitment to funding,” said Mohammed Hassan, former director of the Academy of Sciences of the Developing World (TWAS) and currently a vice chair of the Inter Academy Panel (IAP). “The declaration must address this and come up with recommendations, otherwise it will not have any effect.”

In 2007, the African Union officially called on all its member states to commit at least 1 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) to supporting science and innovation. However, according to the 2010 African Innovation Outlook, only three countries — Malawi, Uganda and South Africa — have achieved this target.

Defending the declaration, the panellists — which included scientists, UN politicians and media representatives — said that creating the document would be a good chance to underline the importance of science to African policymakers, and this could lead to bigger research budgets.

The Cape Town Declaration is expected to be finalised during the 2021 World Science Forum in South Africa.

 

To access the full article by I. Vesper, please see the SciDevNet website.

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