Science and technology news in the developing world

Patent offices in developing countries are to be offered free or low-cost access to a range of online scientific journals from the end of the year. The Access to Research for Development and Innovation (aRDi) scheme was launched by the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in partnership with some major global publishers of scientific and technical journals.

Algeria has started to fund a US$1.4 billion, five year science and technology (S&T) programme that was promised in 2007. The money will help develop S&T research in Algeria, in areas chosen to meet the needs of all the country’s provinces. There are plans for 34 projects (cut from 100 planned in 2007), which among other activities will create 15 new research units and 900 new laboratories, upgrade 583 existing laboratories and recruit more researchers.

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) recently launched a Global Center for Excellence in Laptops and Learning in Rwanda. The purpose of the Center is to create the highest quality examples of learning with connected laptops in schools and communities, support ongoing laptop implementation plans in Rwanda, and create an African regional laptop network. Last month OLPC’s device reached 900,000 children of 31 different nationalities.

Earlier this year Vodafone, along with the United Nations and the Rockerfeller Foundation’s mHealth Alliance joined forces to advance the use of mobile phones to better aid those in need of healthcare in the developing world. This new alliance wants to guide governments, NGOs, and mobile firms on how mobile technology can be used to help save lives.

In June Ghana hosted the 2009 Annual Ministerial Review of Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Regional meeting for Africa on e-health. The two-day meeting brought together more than 100 participants including health ministers, experts, policy makers and non governmental organizations to assess the utilization of ICT to respond adequately to health challenges faced by the continent. Speaking at the event, Dr.George Sipa-Adjah Yankey, Minister of Health in Ghana, said capacity building, promotion of networking, technology transfer and experience sharing between developed and developing countries were strategic tools for promoting quality healthcare delivery.

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