Scidev.net has posted an interesting piece of analysis on African funding for science and research. They note that increasingly, African governments are replacing international aid to science with their own domestic funding. It’s a good trend – if it’s for real – and if governments maintain their funding levels.
Linda Nording, for SciDev, points out that Uganda has turned down a low interest World Bank loan for the Millennium Science Initiative, instead pledging to replace the $33 million dollar loan with funds from the national budget. That is the only specific example of countries turning down international aid dollars. She also mentions that Tanzania and Kenya have pledged to increase support to science and innovation in their new budgets, but that does not seem to be intended to exclude international aid.
The article cites other examples of the increasing Africanization of science funding:
“Evidence of African nationalism (or Afro-centrism) can also be seen in continent-wide science programmes, such as the African Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (ASTII) initiative, which is gathering research, development and innovation data to monitor the continent’s science performance…Similarly, the African Union is expected to launch its long-awaited Research Grants Programme within the next few months. The programme will be bankrolled by the European Union, but for the first time research proposals will be evaluated in Addis Ababa, rather than Brussels or Washington.”
I think that’s all a good thing. African science should be funded, performed and guided by Africans, complemented by the efforts of outsiders as needed. And if African governments take ownership of science funding, both through providing money and coordinating international donors, that’s going to mean better, more focused support for research that matters to the continent and its individuals nations.