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Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Young African scientists must be able to contribute to development

Support for young African scientists is critical if they are to apply their knowledge to the socio-economic challenges of the African continent, says Christopher Chetsanga. Young African scientists need to apply their knowledge to make a difference to the socio-economic challenges of the African continent. But Zimbabwe and most other African countries lack the regulatory environments that would provide the conditions and necessary investments for young scientists to be effectively involved in science and technology for development.  The level of domestic science and technology (S&T) capability determines the success or failure of a given country to benefit from technology transfer. Domestic technological capacity coupled with abundant natural resources is the prescription for automatic global economic domination. It is those who generate new knowledge, who can patent it and convert it to wealth that will make a difference in a community. Such S&T capabilities will enable a nation to overcome technology barriers. That way young scientists can learn to swim with the technology current rather than watching from the shoreline. But our universities are in danger of functioning as diploma factories rather than knowledge repositories. One hopes to see young African scientists increasingly becoming globally involved in international collaborative research and intellectual partnerships. Some young African scientists have benefitted from collaborations with scientists in European Union (EU) laboratories under programmes in which African scientists can submit a joint grant proposal with EU scientists to undertake collaborative research.  A good example is the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), who put out a call for 2010 collaborative research proposals on infectious diseases jointly submitted by teams of African and German scientists. The DFG is also offering funding to enable African MSc and PhD students to do part of their research training in Germany.


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