Stories tagged: UNESCO

New Fund and Network to Promote Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Africa

A new fund to facilitate the transformation of scientific research into viable commercial products has been established in Africa. The African Science, Technology and Innovation Endowment Fund (ASTIF) was launched at the Second Science with Africa conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on June 23-25.

The conference also established the first-ever African Technology Development and Transfer Network, which aims “to generate economic and social value from research and development outputs, by facilitating technology adaptation and the commercialization of outputs”.

At the conference, delegates focused on how African countries should prioritise science and innovation as a means for accelerating their development agendas.  The ASTIF fund was one of the major outcomes of the conference.  Acknowledging the lack of adequate financial resources as one of the biggest hindrances to research and development in Africa, participants created the fund, calling on African business communities to get involved. Through supporting individuals as well as research and development centres, the ASTIF fund aims to “bridge the existing gap between researchers and the private sector”, helping bring research outputs to market more efficiently.

The recommendations also prioritised investing in educating women and young people in science and technology, and highlighted the need for reducing the costs involved in registering and commercializing innovation outputs.

The conference has made a request to the Network of African Science Academies to prepare a report on Science and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Africa by mid-July 2010.

The conference was organised by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) the African Union Commission (AUC), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Nearly five hundred scientists, engineers, technologists, inventors, entrepreneurs and policy makers attended the conference to help contribute towards the recommendations.

‘Science Gap’ Shrinks Globally, but Least Developed Countries Still Far Behind

Recent data released by the UNESCO Institute of Statistics(UIS) indicates that the global technology gap has been shrinking from 2002 to 2007, but the poorest countries still lag far behind.

According to a recent article on by its director David Dickson, global trends indicate that emerging economies such as China, India, and Brazil are accelerating their domestic research capacities.  China alone has increased the number of its researchers by more than three-fourths and has more than doubled its R&D spending.

These countries’ growth has helped pull the developing world as a whole to growth levels which are three times those of the developed world.  But areas like Sub-Saharan Africa have experienced more moderate growth, with the number of researchers increasing only 18% vis-a-vis total population growth, and Arab states’ R&D contributions are actually falling. The least developed countries, which host 12% of the population, have less than one percent of the world’s researchers.

If these research trends continue, countries such as India and China will become global leaders by the year 2025, at which point they are expected to account for more than one-fifth of total R&D expenditures.

And the technology gaps are still quite profound.  The developed world has only one-fifth of the population, yet accounts for three-quarters of total spending.  While part of this discrepancy might be the result of incomplete or non-existent data reporting on the part of certain developing countries, it also indicates the need for continued efforts to bridge the technology gaps which still exist globally.