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The Kind of Science Africa Needs
Alex Steffen, 31 Jan 05

Southern science: as we've discussed before, science and technology, properly understood, are essential to development goals. Now, David Dickson has laid out, in very concrete terms, the kind of science Africa needs to move forward:

"...Africa needs to go further. The concept of a 'system of innovation' most not be conceived or planned in a narrow, technocratic manner. Rather, it must embrace significant social dimensions. This must ensure, for example, that research and development programmes take full account of local priorities, resources, and capacity-building needs, and that the outcomes of these programmes reach the poorest levels of the community. Left on their own, the market forces that have dominated the evolution of systems of innovation in the industrialised nations will not achieve these objectives. More imaginative approaches, embracing both private and public initiatives, are essential if Africa's principal goal — the eradication of poverty — is to be achieved.

"Africa will only develop — which means in practice that poverty will only be eradicated, economic growth will only be achieved, and the Millennium Development Goals will only be met — if greater attention is and support is given to the role of science and technology in each of these processes. [E]qually important is to build this commitment around new ways of thinking about science. At the core of these needs to be imaginative approaches for placing the need for poverty alleviation — not scientific progress — at the heart of research policy, with all the novel policy and institutional linkages that this implies."

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I'm afraid that too strong a focus on technology and applied science in Africa could lead to "brain drain" of those who want to focus primarily on basic research. Both are necessary.

Posted by: Jane Shevtsov on 1 Feb 05



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