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2008 Annual Report

Science & Technology and Innovations for African Development

Message from the Executive Director

Annual Report 2008My first full year as Executive Director of the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS) has been both busy and exciting. If I had to sum up the year in one word, it would be “eventful.” New challenges have come our way in at both global and continental scales. The year saw phenomenal rise in food and energy prices, exacerbation of climate change impacts on many African countries and the deepening of the global financial crisis. Together these deepened the incidences of poverty, poor health conditions, water scarcity, depletion of biodiversity and natural ecosystem resources on the continent. Invariably, these increased Africa’s challenge of attaining the UN Millennium Development Goals and national development targets set by many countries for the reporting period. Despite these and other institutional challenges, ATPS has continued to make positive changes in the lives of communities through building science technology and innovation (STI) capacity today for sustainable development tomorrow. The significant reform of the ATPS institutional governance procedures carried out during the year has also further positioned the ATPS as the Pan-African Centre of Excellence and reference for STI policy research and policy practice on the continent. The core approaches of trans-disciplinarity, systems thinking and innovation through collaboration espoused by the ATPS during the period has led to significant strengthening of the existing STI knowledge clusters in Africa and beyond. There is an air of optimism that Africa will adapt to increasing climatic changes and weather the global financial storm through Science, technology and Innovation.

The year 2008 saw the launch of the ATPS Phase VI Strategic Plan, 2008 – 2012. The five year Strategic Plan which was commenced on January 2008, has adopted a forward looking and ambitious agenda. During the implementation of the ATPS Phase VI Plan, ATPS will continue to close the loop through four interrelated functions:

  1. Knowledge Generation (Research & Training);
  2. Knowledge Brokerage (Stakeholder Dialogue, Knowledge Circulation and Networking);
  3. Knowledge Dissemination & Outreach (Publications, STI Journalism, Policy Advocacy);
  4. Knowledge Valorization – (Innovation Incubation and Challenge Programs, etc).

ED's Message:
"We understand that what Africa needs is not charity, but a chance to develop its own entrepreneurial and industrial capacity through science technology and innovation. Our comparative advantage stems from the recognition that the way out poverty in Africa lies in creating opportunities for people to reap the socioeconomic benefit of STI."

The achievements in this annual report illustrate the first steps taken by the ATPS to bridge the science, technology and innovation policy gaps in Africa during the Phase Vi implementation period. The stories paint a vivid picture of how ATPS builds effective bridges between the quadruple helix: the research communities, the governance sectors, the private sectors and the civil society to enhance innovation capacities and cultures for African development. It is our firm belief that Africa can address its development challenges in a changing global knowledge economy through home grown STI capacities in Africa, by Africans for African development. The requisite skills, knowledge structures and natural resources required to leapfrog development in Africa abounds, but the continent is still mired in poverty due to lack of capacity in science, technology and innovation on the one hand, and lack of coordination, cooperation and collaboration amongst the different actors in the quadruple helix. The ATPS has therefore worked with its partners to build innovation through collaboration during the year ended and will continue to do so in the coming years.

ATPS is continuously evolving its programs to take advantage of emerging challenges of climate change, global economic meltdown and poverty as new opportunities for mainstreaming STI in the fabrics of development policy planning in Africa. These challenges are mutually exacerbating and ad hoc measures to address them unilaterally, through, for instance, economic incentives will lead to unsustainable solutions, and hence cause further shocks in the global system of innovation. The ATPS has therefore continued to respond to these challenges through trans-disciplinary and systems approaches to STI policy planning and advocacy. The year therefore saw the commencement of the initial consultations for the launch of the initiative to develop a manifesto for science, technology and innovation for Africans, by Africa, in Africans by the ATPS and its partners in Africa, Europe and India. The manifesto would document the African voice regarding the core principles and procedures for STI in Africa that will be fully embedded in African histories, its cultures and socio-ecological realities.

In other words, it will create a vision for full democratic governance and socialization of STI for Africa, in Africa, by Africans.  As scientific and technological research and research ethics continue to undergo various forms of socialization in the growing global knowledge economy, the ATPS believes that the only way to develop Africa is to help African countries build robust institutions and governance structures, and also build a critical mass of expertise in STI. African countries must wake up to the challenge of advancing their own context specific research and policy agenda while taking into cognizance the fast growing global knowledge economy. We must learn to learn from the experiences of those who have gone the way of development before us, and learn to share and celebrate the many good practice and achievements recorded on the continent in the past decade. As the saying goes, “he, who started cooking before you, will have more broken pots”. We must therefore learn not to re-invent the wheels of development and at the same time, build sustainable platforms for innovation on the continent. We must learn to upscale tacit knowledge held by our communities and add value to them through proper codification and establishment of relevant knowledge appropriation strategies.

Our work through national chapters in 23 countries has helped define and prioritize local research and policy priorities, and in liaison with relevant stakeholders, build dynamic response strategies. With an expansion plan in place to cover the entire sub-Saharan Africa by 2012, the ATPS Phase VI Strategy places emphasis on measures to build on the capacities of the existing National Chapters to inform and influence STI policy in the respective countries and at the continental level. The reforms carried out in 2008 have identified specific measures to strengthen the linkages with and involvement of key STI regional institutions and national government agencies in the work of the ATPS. Measures to strengthen collaboration with and support to the African Union’s New Partnership for African Development (AU/NEPAD) initiatives on science, technology and innovation as well as other regional and pan-African initiatives have been mapped out.

We understand that what Africa needs is not charity, but  support to develop its own governance, entrepreneurial and industrial capacity through science technology and innovation. Our comparative advantage stems from the recognition that the way out poverty in Africa lies in creating opportunities for people to reap the socioeconomic benefits of STI. We also understand that in Africa’s complex realities, unidirectional efforts to address Africa’s multi-faceted development challenges without building a critical mass in STI for development may be unsuccessful. I therefore call on African Governments and our Development Partners to kindly support our efforts to build STI Capacity today for sustainable African development tomorrow.

As countries grapple with the effects of the global financial crisis, there is an unprecedented need for renewed commitment to strengthening STI capacities in Africa. The effects of the financial crisis will no doubt continue to exert pressure on African Governments in 2009 and in the short and medium terms. ActionAid predicts that African economies will lose up to 49 billion dollars by the end of 2009. This shock to the already fragile economies and ecosystems in African countries may have significant domino effects on global sustainability through deforestation, biodiversity loss, increased poverty and resource wars, insecurity etc. With the financial crisis expected to reduce Development Aid and grants for STI programs, there is a real risk that the few advances already made in some African counties through STI capacity building over the recent years, might be jeopardized. I would therefore like to call upon our donors and friends not to waver in their support for our STI capacity building programs especially during this time of financial stagnation. There is still a lot of ground to be covered and if we continue working together we can contribute to sustainable development in Africa for the collective good of our ailing planet.

This report presents a summary of the STI capacity building activities and financial statements of the ATPS Secretariat for the period January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008. It highlights some of the successes stories and also some of the inevitable challenges we shared during the year ended, 2008. It is also a means of presenting a consolidated brief report and account statements to our many donors, members and stakeholders on how we raised and spent the funds that were entrusted to ATPS in the year 2008. In 2009/10, I look forward to working with you to build on the foundations laid in the past year to deliver on our core strategic goal: "building Africa’s STI capacity today for sustainable development tomorrow"

YES WE CAN.

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Dr. Kevin Urama,
Executive Director , ATPS

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African Technology Policy Studies Network | 2008 Annual Report

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