Uganda has joined efforts with other African countries to increase the country’s capacity to design, manage and monitor the use of scientific knowledge for poverty alleviation.
Officials from the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) convened a meeting in Kampala last week for representatives of science regulatory agencies from five Eastern Africa countries to learn lessons from each other on how to monitor research work to accelerate its application for poverty alleviation.
According to Dr. Ismail Barugahare, the Deputy Executive Secretary at the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST), sharing experiences with other African countries on how they implement and monitor research will improve the way science impacts on society.
The collaboration is supported by a grant of 14 million Canadian dollars (Approx. UGX38bn) which is meant to support capacity building collaboration talks across 16 African countries.
Barugahare points out that the support will enable UNCST to take stock of all forms of scientific research that may be taking place in a country at a particular point. This would strengthen the Council’s ability to provide more informed and evidence-based advice to government for policy formulation.
“The most immediate outcomes of this initiative are a common measurement system and understanding of the National Innovations Systems (NISs). More importantly, SGCs are envisaged to become champions of using indicators to influence the development of strong NISs to which are the precursors for transitioning to knowledge-based African economies proposed by Science Technology Strategy for Africa (STISA) 2024.
The programme comes at a critical time when most African countries are struggling to transform their economies by increasing the volume of value-added exports to rival manufactured imports.
While Agriculture is considered the most important base for any country’s economic development, after generating enough capacity, Science and Technology then plays the most essential part in transforming agriculture and the economy as a whole.
Following the successes of the green revolution in several Asian and South American countries, countries turned to Science and Technology to add value to products which increased people’s purchasing power that in turn provided a market for local innovations.
While policy makers continue to issue assurances about the country’s progress towards a knowledge-based economy, there remain major obstacles to this dream. These particularly relate to the absence of a critical mass of scientific researchers, on the other hand, and the low levels of budget support by national governments dedicated to Science and Technology, according to Dr. Barugahare.
It is hoped that with this funding from Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), more researchers will be trained and that more relevant experiences will be shared to better inform Africa’s strategy on S&T development.