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African Union names prominent scientists to top African research panel

The African Union (AU) has set up a High-Level Panel on Science, Technology and Innovation and appointed scientists Kenya’s Prof. Calestous Juma of the Harvard University, and Ismail Serageldin of Egypt  as co-Chairs. AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping said the appointments were made Friday in line with the recommendations of the African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology (AMCOST), based on the rapid advances in science and technology.

The AU chief also named Dr. Botlhale Tema of South Africa, the long-time Director of Science and Technology Department at the AU Commission, Dr. Rispah Oduwo of Kenya, Prof. Jean-de Dieu Nzila of Congo and Prof. François Lompo of Burkina Faso to the panel.

Two additional members, representing the international community Prof. Karim Maredia of Michigan State University and Prof. Pascal Kossivi Adjamagbo of the University Paris — were also named to the AU science Panel.

Prof. Serageldin of the Library of Alexandria, Egypt, and Harvard Prof would guide the AU on the review process of the Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA), adopted by AMCOST in 2005.

The AU Heads of State Assembly endorsed the plan in 2006, with the view to moving the continent from resource-based economies into the age of innovation-led growth.

Ping, who is due to leave his post after losing a race for a second term in July, announced that the first meeting of the panel would be held on 8 and 9 August, 2012, at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt.

The first report of the Panel will be presented at the next AMCOST meeting, to be held in November 2012, in Brazzaville, Congo.

The adopted plan will be presented to the AU Summit of July 2013 for approval.

Prof. Aggrey Ambali, Head of the NEPAD Agency’s Science, Technology and Innovation Hub based in South Africa, and the Science and Technology Division of the AUC has been coordinating a review of the African science and technology plan of action.

Africa’s common framework for advancing science, technology and innovation was put in place to drive the creation, improvement and mobilization of human resources, infrastructure and promotion of cluster research and development programmes.

The current CPA was planned to be implemented within five years after which it would be reviewed in order to examine achievements, make adjustments in the plan based on successes and challenges and prepare a roadmap for implementation.

“The review will address such areas as how the CPA has effectively responded to the continental priorities, regional integration, intra-Africa cooperation, and spurred socio-economic transformation, and human and institutional development,” the AU said in a statement.

The AU said it is expected that the review will flag out the lessons learnt and those that could be used to improve future flagship projects, consolidate gender-related impacts, enhance strong participation of the youth, promote policy reviews, and human, institutional and infrastructural capacity development.

A Working group, comprising representatives from the AU Commission, the NEPAD Agency, the African Development Bank, UNESCO, UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Nairobi-based African Academy of Sciences, are involved in the planning process.

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