Subregional Coooperation In Science and Technology

Subregional Coooperation In Science and Technology

Dist. Limited

ARCST/1/5.g 20 September 1995



First Meeting of the African Regional Conference on
Science and Technology

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) 6-10 November 1995




1. On many issues cooperation between states is often more operational and practical at subregional level than at the regional level. This is particularly so in Africa where communications are difficult and expensive and diversity is great. Cooperation in the field of science and technology between, say, Botswana and Namibia, can be much easier and a lot more beneficial than cooperation between, say, Lesotho and Chad. This reality has prompted the former Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Science and Technology Development (IGCESTD) to set up in 1983 five subregional working groups with a member State acting as coordinator or convener for each group. The groups are composed as follows:

2. From 1984 to 1995 the following group meetings were convened:

Eastern Africa: Addis Ababa, 21-23 November 1984
Addis Ababa, 19-21 April 1989 Kampala, 20-24 September 1993

Northern Africa: Cairo, 15-19 June 1986
Tanger, 25-26 February 1989 Tunis, 13-16 December 1993

Southern Africa: Lusaka, 30 Sept. - 2 Oct. 1987
Lusaka, 11-12 October 1989 Maseru, 2-4 May 1993 Johannesburg 5-8 Dec. 1994 ?

Central Africa: Yaounde, 11-14 March 1986
Yaounde, 3-6 March 1987 Yaounde, 2-4 May 1990

Western Africa: Dakar, 6-9 April 1987
Niamey, 21-23 March 1991

3. These meetings were initiated and serviced by the ECA (including the subregional offices - MULPOC) and the OAU and were sponsored financially by the United Nations, donor agencies (Carnegie and IFSTAD) and member States (three meetings: Eastern, Central and Southern Africa). A majority of member States participated in the meetings together with a number of regional and subregional organizations, including UN agencies.

4. The working group meetings were instrumental in the identification of issues, problems and priorities and in the formulation of subregional policies and subregional projects which required collaborative actions. In some instances, the working groups assigned responsibilities to specific countries to follow-up recommendations or courses of action and to develop full-scale projects based on the project ideas agreed to during the meetings. However, the working groups lack some life of their own, continuity and follow-up actions and raising funds to realize subregional projects has been difficult. Lately the focus of the meetings has shifted to the elaboration of subregional policies and subregional cooperation in science and technology (Northern and Southern Africa) and to training in a particular field (Eastern Africa).

5. It should be noted that jinitally the IGCESTD established three Working Groups each assigned to a specific subject area, and having membership drawn from all the five subregions. However due to logistic problems experienced during th einitial two years of their esistence the IGCESTD in 1983, reorgnaised the working Groups on subregional bais to eansure that the problems were looked at from, inter alia an agro-ecological point of view of the subregion concerned, and that consultations and contacts were more manageable within each of the five subregions i.e Northern, Western, Central, Eastern and Southern.

6. In order to enhance the subregional focus of the Working Groups the IGCESTD initiated a draft resolution which was approved as Commission resolution 629(XXVII), requiring the ECA Multinational Programming and Operational Centres (MULPOCs) to coordinate the Working Groups activities in their respective subregions.

7. In the light of the experience the Secretariat has had in the operation fo the Working Groups under the former IGCESTD, the Conference is invited to consider and approve the following proposals for the operationalization of the provisions of resolution 757 (XXVII) on the working groups of the African Regional Conference.

(a) Thaf five subregional Working Groups be established. Their membership
should comprise of the following countries:-

Eastern Africa: Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopiam Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda

Central Africa: Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African
Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe and Zaire.

Southern Africa:Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Madagascar,
Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Northern Africa:Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocoo, Sudan and

Western Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Berde, Cte d'Ivoire,
Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guine-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra
Leone and Togo.

(b) Subregional Working Groups should function as Sub-communitees of
the Regional Conference, provide a focus for its activities in their
respective subreions and should report on their activities to the biennial
meetings of the African Regional Conference. They should also
provide the science and technology focus for th programmes and
activies of their especitive MULPOCs and report to the biennial
meeting sof their Intergovernmental Committee of Experts.

(c) Member States in each subregional Wroking Group should designate
a Coordinator country which will convene and organise consultations
amongst the members with a view to dertermine, inter alia, its
programmes and activites and modalities for carrying them out in
consultation witht he relevant MULPOC secretariat, economic gorupings in the subregion, ECA secretariat, and other United Nations
bodies and organisations, NGOs, etc. active in the subregion.

(d) The first meeting sof the subregional Working Groups shall take place
during the first meeting of the African Regional Conference for the
prupsoee of designating a Coordinator country and possibly handling
other preliminary issues.

(e) The ECA secretariat shall, through the relevant MULPOCs, provide
logistic and backstop support to the subregional Working Groups
estblished by the Regional Conference. 8. ECA believes that the subregional working groups should be maintained and that member States should get more involved in their functioning and financing. ECA is willing to provide logistical and substantive support to these groups provided there is enough commitment from member States. In the past there has been an overreliance on ECA for the organization, follow-up and search for funding of agreed project proposals and an overdependence on external financing for the travel and upkeep of participants.

9. In line with the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community subregional cooperation in science and technology should aim at fostering subregional integration. In other words cooperation in science and technology should increase the benefits of sharing subregional strengths, such as research and development, testing, production and training facilities, metrology equipment, successful experiences and particular expertise. It is obvious that a small country cannot afford to build and operate all the facilities and institutions needed to support science and technology development.

10. In the final analysis what is important is what member States learn at the subregional group meetings and the follow-up actions taken on issues discussed. In the past it has been difficult for ECA to assess the impact of these meetings for lack of feed-back. However, information gathered indirectly indicate that the subregional meetings provide a useful mechanism to break a sense of isolation and to foster cooperation in science and technology in Africa. It has also been useful to identify common problems and priorities as well as solutions at the subregional level. Furthermore the search for funding of project proposals is often easier if the project is supported by a group of countries than if it is supported by only one country.

11. Issues which could be discussed include:

~ Should the subregional groupings be maintained as they are presently?
~ What should be done to revive the activities of the subregional groups?
~ Should one or two sectoral or thematic groups be set up ? ~ Can member States provide the financing for the meetings ? ~ What should be the frequency of these meetings ? ~ Who should take the initiative of convening the meetings ? ~ What should be the role of the continental organizations (ECA, OAU, ADB)
and the subregional organizations (SADAC, ESCOWAS, etc.)? ~ What should be the main focus of the meetings - exchange of information and
views, training, projects elaboration and realization or policy formulation ?


From: Date: Tue, 12 Mar 96 12:46:28 +0000 Subject: PADIS3 Message-ID: <>

Back to document index


Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D.
Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific