Science foresight for Africa
Africa's access to scientific and technical instruments is vital both for the development of research aimed at solving the continent's economic and social problems and for the promotion and advancement of research itself on an international scale.
Indeed, it is in this area more than in any other that the divide between Africa and the rest of the world is the most gaping, the most intolerable. Africa remains the only continent where prodigious scientific and technical advances have failed to create wealth, eradicate poverty, control the population explosion and improve people's health and education. Africa's contribution to these advances is virtually non-existent in basic research, industrial R&D and transfer science.
No country has a semblance of a space or seismic research programme, while the strategic aspect of biotechnology, satellites and the Internet is still largely underestimated by decision-makers. Consequently, African brains have no other path to take than that of exile or expatriation. As for the African diaspora, unlike diasporas in other regions of the world, it is unable to make any contribution. In fact, more than a question of human and material resources, it is the absence of an African vision and cohesion in science policy that constitutes the main factor of disconnection from the continent. Under these conditions, left to their own devices, African researchers, those in the diaspora and users of research results cannot take Africa out of a scientific isolation that is taking on a dramatic dimension with the digital revolution.
The increasingly knowledge-based economy nevertheless offers Africa immense opportunities to develop its abundant natural resources and human potential and to make technological leaps.
One of the major proposals of the I.C.'s "Dakar Declaration" is the establishment of an African Institute of Technology including an African Space Agency to revolutionize the continent's communications and surveillance capabilities through the acquisition of Africa's first communications satellite. The Institute's research capabilities extend to remote sensing and environmental monitoring. Its research programmes will give new impetus in areas such as biological sciences, digital technologies, entrepreneurship, the fight against AIDS and malaria, the fight against desertification and famine.
On the occasion of the UN Millennium Summit held in 2000, the "Millennium Declaration" of Heads of State insisted that the benefits of new information and communication technologies be granted to all, especially Africans, in accordance with the recommendations contained in the Ministerial Declaration of the Economic and Social Council. To bridge the digital divide, the "Annan" Report "We the People, the Role of the United Nations", at the same Summit, announced the launch of a telemedicine centre and a United Nations Information Technology Service (UNITeS).
The establishment of the Institute will give coherence to the African vision in science and technology and to the support that the United Nations can provide to Africa.
The present proposal provides guidance on the conditions for the establishment of the Institute and the modalities for the implementation and management of associated research initiatives and programmes, such as the African Space Agency
Putting Science and its Networks at the Service of Africa; 2000
Major trends in scientific and technical activity
Scientific and socio-economic outlook to 2050
Science facing the African challenge
Science and Africa's urgent problems
IV. Actions to be undertaken
Conduct Technology Research Programs
Basic research for development
Technology applications for competitiveness
Science-based decision-making processes
Education and training of young researchers
Establish the African Institute of Technology and the Network of Centres of Excellence
Establish the Space Agency and launch the first Geostationary Communications and Monitoring Satellite