African states flouting AU declaration on funding STI

Member States of Africa have been accused of flouting the African Union�s declaration, which compels members to commit at least one percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) to the funding of research and development (R&D). South Africa acknowledged for posting the highest commitment to funding STI by allocating 0.9 percent of its GDP between the 2010/2011 fiscal year to funding R&D and science, technology and innovation. Other countries including Tanzania and Tunisia demonstrated strong commitments with the rest hovering between 0.2-0.59 per cent of GDP. �It is disheartening to note that Kenya belongs to the legion of defaulters, committing insignificantly 0.54 percent of GDP to R&D,� Professor Margaret Kamar, Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, stated at the official opening of the first Africa Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation, in Nairobi, Kenya. �Failure to honour the commitment would continue to have its repercussion for individual countries as well as the corporate entity of Africa. We need to meet such benchmarks to provide the impetus for the development of STI through R&D to bridge the development and knowledge gap,� she said. The Minister said �time is not on our side and we must challenge ourselves to find the resources to strengthen and build the requisite structures to be able to compete in the global scientific and innovative space and to meet the Millennium Development Goals.� Naledi Pandor, South African Minister of Science and Technology, said South Africa has expanded the pipeline for the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics adding that �by December, we are networking and would have integrated all research institutions in South Africa and extending it to cover members of the regional group of Southern African Development Commission (SADC)". Professor Makane M. Mbarawa, the Tanzanian Minister of Communication, Science and Technology, told the GNA that their government�s commitment totaling US$ 20 million (30 billion shillings) was channeled to financing R&D and STI. Dr Mustapha Ahmed, the Ghanaian Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, said Ghana posted a budgetary allocation of 0.53 percent of its GDP for funding STI and it is hoping to partner with the private sector and other key stakeholders to revolutionalise the sector. President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya urged African governments to demonstrate practical commitments to the agenda of financing science, technology and innovation for accelerated growth and advancement. He said many STI platforms in Africa have not chalked the needed progress resulting from inadequate funding for the sector and a drawback to research, human capital development and inclusive growth. President Kibaki said this during the official opening of the three-day first African Forum on STI for youth employment, human capital development and inclusive growth in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday. �We need the STI policies to build appropriate capacities for local priority prerequisites and harness the synergies for the development of all sectors,� he said. He called on governments, academia, private sector and civil society groups to devise appropriate policies and research infrastructure towards retaining the top-notch researchers within Africa and additionally attract others from the Diaspora.