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ATPS Nigeria to Commemorate the Scientific Revival Day of Africa 2011

The 46th Ministerial Conference of the African Union (AU) in 1987 declared 30th June as a day reserved to commemorate the Scientific Revival Day of Africa (SRDA). The SRDA is a day for Africans to re-examine the role science and technology plays in their lives, the prevailing environment for science and technology, the achievements, missed opportunities, and strength of her science policy. Most current reports paint the picture of lack of supporting environments for science technology and innovation, and a weak science policy base to help mainstream science and technology in the development agenda of Africa.

The African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS), a non-governmental, non-profit, multidisciplinary network of researchers, policy makers, legislatures, actors in the private sector, celebrates this day annually, based on its strong belief that getting the right policy for the application of science and technology is an indispensable step in addressing the problems of Africa. The aim is to sensitize African people, Governments and institutions on the indispensable role of science and technology in national development. The target is on the policy that drives the development and application of science and technology in national development. ATPS is registered in Nigeria as a company limited by guarantee. It is part of a big family of ATPS Chapters in other African countries with a headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

ATPS Nigeria has in the past couple of years taken the initiative to network with other organizations in Africa and indeed Nigeria in annually celebrating this day. In 2003, ATPS celebrated this day in collaboration with the Raw Material Research and Development Council (RMRDC). In 2004, the collaboration was with the RMRDC, the National Space Development Agency (NASDA) and the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS).  In 2005 the collaboration was with the Applied Institute for Applied Economics (AIAE). In 2006, the collaboration was with the Raw Material Research and Development Council (RMRDC), and interestingly, the African Union (AU). In 2010 the ATPS collaborated with the RMRDC, the Federal University of Technology Yola, (FUTY) as host, the National Universities Commission (NUC) and Science Technology Education Post basic (Step-B).

This year the partnering institutions are the University of Nigeria (UNN), the African Technology Policies Studies Network (ATPS), Kenya, and the Open Society Foundation (OSF) of the United States of America, the Development Partnerships in Higher Education (DelPHE) of UK and the Faculty of Agriculture, UNN, under the UNN-ATPS-OSF project on building trans-disciplinary climate change adaption capacity at the University of Nigeria. The major objective of the project is to develop capabilities and curriculum for new programmes on climate change adaptation. The major activity for the celebration is a symposium on “Climate Change Adaptation Strategies and Policies” on the 6th of July at the Princess Alexandra Auditorium, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, Nigeria, starting at 10am .

Effective adaptation to a complex global challenge such as climate change requires coordinated and collaborative efforts to galvanise response activities at individual and institutional levels across Nigeria; to create new curricula; new teaching methods; and university governance structures suitable for building necessary capacities for climate change adaptation.   The government and people of Nigeria should realise that changing nature of science, technology and innovation calls for new approaches in managing complex innovation processes that involve many diverse actors—public research organizations, local and multinational private industries, civil society organizations, and rural producer associations. There is the need for a fundamental shift in the state’s role in the science technology and innovation process, and a corresponding shift in the role of these other actors.  Thus, governments must explore new ways of transforming publicly-managed research systems into more responsive, dynamic and competitive entities that increase both the efficiency and impact of research. Competitive funding facilities, privately-funded research, public-private partnerships, are just some of the mechanisms that need to be explored.

Speakers at the symposium are drawn from South Africa, the Federal Ministry of Environment, the University of Nigeria, the Federal University of Technology Yola, and the African Institute for Applied Economics, Enugu. Participants are from: the Open Society Foundation,(OSF) USA; the African Technology Policies Studies Network (ATPS), Nairobi; members of ATPS Nigeria; the British Council, Abuja; the National Universities Commission, (NUC); Abuja; the Federal Ministry of Environment,(FMEn), Abuja;  the Nigerian Institute for Social and Economic Research (NISER), Ibadan; the Raw Material Research and Development Council, (RMRDC), Abuja; the Step-B Project, Abuja; Commissioners or their representatives from State Ministries of Environment; State Project Coordinators (SPC) of the Fadama 111 projects; staff and students of the University of Nigeria; students from selected secondary schools, and the press.

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By Prof. Michael C. Madukwe