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Tight deadline for revised science plan

Partnerships and capacity high on African planners’ agenda

The high-level panel set up last month to review African science faces a tight deadline in presenting a revised plan to the continental science ministerial meeting in November.

The revised plan will replace the Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA) adopted by the continent’s science ministers in 2005.

The plan will be accompanied by an advocacy and implementation strategy, which its predecessor lacked.

“The CPA was lacking in an implementation plan. It could be one of the reasons some things didn’t work. We need to shoot at a target and say, for example, we must train such a number of engineers by such a time,” says Aggrey Ambali, a member of the panel.

Ambali is head of policy alignment at the New Partnership for Africa’s Development’s planning and coordinating agency, which is leading the review in collaboration with the African Union.

The panel met in Egypt on 8 and 9 August to discuss how the revised plan should be structured. It will hold another meeting in South Africa in October.

Priority areas discussed so far include measures to promote and harness public and private partnerships to train scientists and improve institutional capacity.

“This would include having functional and well-equipped laboratories to attract scientists to Africa,” Ambali says.

The draft is expected to be ready in time for the fifth African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology in Congo Brazzaville in November. It will then be submitted to the July 2013 African Union heads of state summit for approval.

The AU has set 12 to 16 November as the tentative date for the AMCOST meeting. Topping the agenda will be the draft revised plan of the consolidated plan of action and a proposal to create an African Innovation Council, designed to provide a dedicated funding mechanism for science.