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  • on 19.11.2010
  • at 08:00 AM
  • by Staff

The role of Young African scientists for development 0

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.

National policies for research funding

The low ranking of African scientists in S&T performance is not due to a lack of intelligence. The main reasons are the limited rigor of S&T training at undergraduate and postgraduate levels due to inadequate research funding and infrastructure. It is very important to have national policies that provide for the allocation of reasonable funding for appropriate S&T education and research laboratory infrastructure.

Topping up postgraduate training with postdoctoral advanced research training at other African universities or overseas will give young scientists opportunities for exposure to different technologies and a greater appreciation of the S&T knowledge world.

The risk of some young African postdoctoral scientists going to Europe or North America and not returning home has less negative impact on the home country than the impact of depriving Africa’s future S&T development of this postdoctoral international exposure.

African countries can avoid losing their scientists and university lecturers to the diaspora for better paying jobs by improving the employment packages for their scientists.


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.

By Christopher ChetsangaContinue Reading on SciDev.Net

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi