Increasing African scientific output: an overview

The African Union (AU) has
undertaken a large initiative to nurture and increase African scientific
research output. Last month the AU launched the first African
Innovation Outlook
 – a survey of African research, development
and innovation activity. The report, which contained research and
development figures for 13 of Africa’s 54 countries, has been hailed as the
most detailed picture to date on what has been invested in scientific research
in Africa.

Schemes such as the ASTII programme are
working to build on human and institutional capacities needed to produce common
internationally comparable indicators. These can be easily used in future
reports as tools for the ongoing survey of African research at national levels.

Among the more startling findings from the African
Innovation Outlook, only 72 of Kenya’s nearly 7,000 research and
development personnel have PhDs and few countries featured in the report spent
more than 1 per cent of their GDP on research and development in 2007. Science in
Africa still has great scope for growth but now, several encouraging steps are
being taken.

Similar efforts are being made beyond Africa; the European
Union (EU) has committed substantial funding to AfricaConnect, a project that will
enable a high-speed computer link connecting national research and education
networks in Africa to Europe’s multi-gigabit research and education
network, GÉANT.

BioMed Central is also at the forefront of
championing African research and using open access to  increase the visibility and output of
scientific endeavors. The publisher is also keen to raise awareness of the
developments currently taking place within the continent; Proceedings from
the Fifteenth
Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union
, which discussed the
theme ‘Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa’, have
recently been published and made accessible in BMC Proceedings.



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