817 (XXXI). African Regional Conference on Science and Technology


The Conference of Ministers,


            Reaffirming its belief in the strategic role and vital contribution of science and technology in the continued activation or acceleration of economic growth and development of African countries,


            Recalling the objectives of the Conference, in particular (a) to pursue actively the promotion of science and technology and the formulation of measures to ensure their application to national, subregional and regional development; (b) to give special consideration in its activities to the needs of the least developed member States and to the application and impact of new and emerging technologies,


            Recognizing its mandate as an intergovernmental institution dedicated to assist and advise the Economic Commission for Africa in formulating and executing strategies, policies and programmes to stimulate scientific progress and technological innovation on the African continent,


            Recognizing also its role in the strengthening of regional and subregional cooperation and integration in the field of science and technology,


            Acknowledging that the international environment has changed appreciably during the last few years and that science and technology policies in Africa need to be revamped or adapted to the emerging new context and challenges of the twenty-first century,


            Realizing the need to formulate a new vision of Africa as a full and integrated partner in world development,


            Bearing in mind the remarkable success of some Asian countries in the field of technological and economic progress and industrial competitiveness, success that can be a source of inspiration and encouragement for African countries,


            Reaffirming that capacity-building in science and technology for development in Africa should remain one of the top priority issues on the agenda of the Economic Commission for Africa,


            Stressing the need for African countries to promote and facilitate access to and the transfer of environmentally sound technologies and know-how,


            Noting with concern the diminishing level of development aid and technical assistance in Africa, the short-term negative impacts of the new Uruguay Round/General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the low level of international commercial credit and investment in Africa,


            Understanding the imperative for African countries to increase the level of investment in technological application and utilization substantially in order to achieve a growth rate that will enable them to break out of poverty,


            Mindful of the need for African countries to depart from protective and inward-looking policies and promote mechanisms that will increase substantially the level of financing for technological development and economic growth,


            Noting that to increase the contribution of science and technology and stimulate economic growth, African countries need to pursue economic reforms with more vigour and put into place an enabling environment,


            Noting further that a more proactive approach to science and technology development is needed, especially its inextricable link to industrialization,


            1.         Urges that member States should:


            (a)        Participate actively and at the highest level of decision-making, including ministerial, in the work of the Conference, ensure its continuity and take steps to implement its resolutions and recommendations;


            (b)        Set up or review their science and technology policy and machinery and translate these policies into appropriate legislation for their effective application, in line with the new international context characterized, among other things, by a decline of official development aid and technical assistance, high indebtedness, a new trade and investment regime, a greater role of the private sector and private finance, the expansion of market economies, increased economic liberalization, interdependence and globalization;


            (c)        Put into place an incentives regime to foster scientific progress and technological innovation, including:


                     (i)            Fundamental market incentives (competition, private property, openness to the global economy, reduced bureaucracy);


                    (ii)            Institutional and infrastructural incentives (information, communication, technology incubation, transfer, extension, diffusion, popularization, networking, export processing zone);


                   (iii)            Financial incentives (venture capital, small credit, etc.);


                   (iv)            Fiscal incentives (tax exemptions, rebates, reliefs, holidays, accelerated depreciation);


                    (v)            Budgetary incentives (modernization grants, investment allowances, etc.);


                   (vi)            Legal and regulatory incentives (property rights, technological standards);


                  (vii)            Public procurement incentives;


                 (viii)            Honorific incentives (prizes, awards); and


                   (ix)            Knowledge base incentives (scholarships, encouragement to girls, apprenticeship, sabbatical leaves, study tours, participation in seminars, consultancies, etc.);


            (d)        Strengthen their technological and financing capacity through, among other things, the use of foreign direct investment which can be attracted by putting in place:


                     (i)            A stable democracy;


                    (ii)            A competitive policy regime that is transparent, predictable and efficiently administered, including trade policy, investment policy, immigration policy, industrial and labour policy and patents and intellectual property policies;


                   (iv)            An adequate physical infrastructure, particularly in transport and communications;


                   (iv)            A reliable network of suppliers;


                    (v)            A sound, diversified and dynamic financial system;


                   (vi)            A good array of technological support services, such as technical training facilities, extension services, standards, metrology and quality control, science and technology information services (data bases and full Internet connectivity);


            (e)        Accelerate technology acquisition, absorption and assimilation by:


                     (i)            Formulating a clear policy statement on technology transfer to be approved by the highest governmental authorities;


                    (ii)            Initiating measures to strengthen manpower training in various aspects of technology transfer;


                   (iii)            Designing competitive laws, regulations and guidelines to facilitate the transfer and acquisition of environmentally sound, culturally compatible, socially beneficial, economically profitable and sustainable technologies;


                   (iv)            Reducing cultural and political constraints to technology transfer and development, and promoting values of change, openness, self-reliance, initiative, entrepreneurship, freedom and stability;


            (f)        Create a strong governmental unit to:


                     (i)            Design and manage a more discriminating technology transfer and acquisition policy in the direction of the national objectives;


                    (ii)            Carry out technology assessment and forecasting;


                   (iii)            Support entrepreneurs in their foreign technology transactions;


                   (iv)            Advise the government on issues of technology transfer;


                    (v)            Evolve concerted and harmonized subregional technology transfer and acquisition policies to make optimal use of resources and enhance a common stand when competing for foreign acquisition of technology;


                   (vi)            Ensure the proper use of resources;


            (g)        Put into place an enabling environment by redoubling their efforts in capacity building so as to be better able to apply international technologies by pursuing structural economic reforms so that they can be more appealing on the international scene, better absorb needed technologies, better exploit technological complementarities among themselves and participate more in the regional and global economy;


            (h)        Implement urgently policies to curb brain-drain and benefit from African nationals working abroad;


            (i)         Take steps to implement the protocol on science and technology of the African Economic Community by:


                     (i)            Strengthening their scientific and technological capabilities through programmes aiming at the proper application of science and technology;


                    (ii)            Improving existing facilities and developing institutional capabilities for the development, management, utilization and popularization of new and traditional technologies;


                   (iii)            Promoting cooperation in all aspects of fostering the application of science and technology for the development, the acquisition and assimilation of technology and its adaptation to local conditions; and


                   (iv)            Strengthening national, subregional and regional scientific and technological institutions and associations;


            (j)         Strengthen the acquisition and application of nuclear science and technology in order to improve water resources management, environmental protection, energy requirement, food and agriculture, radiation protection and safety, animal production, human and animal health and quality control and other uses in industry and, to this effect, support the membership of African countries in the International Atomic Energy Agency and the regional cooperation agreement on research, development and training in the field of nuclear science and technology and their participation in the regional programme for Africa and the Working Group on Nuclear Science and Technology of the Economic Commission for Africa, while ensuring complementarity of efforts in the various cooperative frameworks;


            (k)        Build and periodically update a series of science and technology indicators in order to provide useful information in the design of science and technology policies and to monitor the scientific and technological progress;


            (l)         Pay special attention to and empower women through their participation in science and technology activities in order to increase productivity and accelerate the process of development;


            (m)       Intensify the teaching of mathematics, science and technology at primary and secondary levels through appropriate reform of curricula;


            (n)        Attach more importance to cooperation and collaboration with:


                     (i)            The Economic Commission for Africa, the Organization of African Unity and the African Development Bank in the field of science and technology, including the implementation of the Protocol on Science and Technology of the African Economic Community;


                    (ii)            Other intergovernmental and non-governmental technological organizations, including the African Regional Centre for Engineering, Design and Manufacturing, the African Regional Centre for Technology, the African Regional Organization for Standardization, the African Agency for Bio-technology, the African Regional Industrial Property Organization and the African Intellectual Property Organization;


            2.         Resolves:


            (a)        To create five subregional conferences on science and technology, with flexible membership, to:


                     (i)            Foster subregional cooperation and integration in science and technology;


                    (ii)            Formulate subregional policies taking into account comparative advantages and complementarities of member States;


                   (iii)            Design and implement subregional projects; and


                   (iv)            Collaborate in the strengthening of subregional capacity in science and technology;


                    (v)            Create sectoral working groups, embracing networking and including one sectoral working group on scientific and technological parks and one sectoral working group on nuclear science and technology;


            (b)        To give full support to the Commission's activities in science and technology in order to assist member States in incorporating science and technology into their socio-economic development for food security, poverty alleviation and enhanced quality of life, including:


                     (i)            The provision of sample legislation for the implementation of science and technology policies;


                    (ii)            The promotion of measures to enhance entrepreneurial capacity to exploit science and technology;


                   (iii)            The development of science and technology popularization programmes through the mass media;


                   (iv)            The formulation of science and technology policy options for Africa for the twenty-first century; and


                    (v)            The delivery of advisory services to member States on various aspects of science and technology development and application;


            (c)        To call upon the organizations of the United Nations system to intensify their cooperation with the Commission and assistance to African countries and organizations in promoting the development of science and technology on the continent;


            (d)        To call upon and support the Commission in its search for funds for the execution of extra-budgetary projects in the priority areas identified by the Conference;


            (e)        To recommend an amendment to its terms of reference, item (d), to include special attention to the needs of women and children.


                                                                                                                                          301st meeting,

                                                                                                                                             8 May 1996.