Science and Technology Protocol of the African Economic Community

Science and Technology Protocol of the African Economic Community

Dist. Limited

ARCST/1/5.f 20 September 1995



First Meeting of the African Regional Conference on
Science and Technology

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) 6-10 November 1995




1. In the past fifteen years, a number of resolutions and documents have been adopted by African States to strengthen the role of science and technology in development. In 1991 the African Heads of State adopted the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community and in 1992 and 1993, in the framework of the Treaty, a draft Protocol on Science and Technology was formulated. In 1994 ECA organized a Round Table to discuss this draft Protocol and suggest ways to improve it. The aim of this Protocol, according to the draft, is to :

(a) Strengthen scientific and technological capabilities of member States through programs aiming at the proper application of science and technology for development in the different sectors. The programs should contain ways and means to :

(i) improve existing facilities and develop
institutional capabilities in member countries, for the development, management, utilization and popularization of new and traditional technologies;

(ii) ensure the proper application of science and
technology to the development of the socioeconomic sectors, in particular agriculture, transport and communications, industry, health and hygiene, energy, education and manpower, utilizing nuclear techniques and biotechnology wherever possible;

(b) Promote cooperation among Member States in all aspects
of fostering the application of science and technology for the development of African societies, the acquisition and assimilation of technology and its adaptation to local conditions;

(c) Strengthen national, subregional and regional
scientific and technological institutions, including those concerned with intellectual property laws and practices, as well as patent information services.

2. Under this draft Protocol, member States shall :

(a) Strengthen national, regional and continental institutions and centers concerned with science and technology with a view to enhancing their capability for research on science and technology, and the application of research results to solving Africa's economic and social problems;

(b) Strengthen scientific and technological capabilities
in order to bring about the socioeconomic transformation required to improve the quality of life of their population, particularly that of the rural populations;

(c) Promote mechanisms for the exchange of science and
technology information and documentation and for the establishment of community data networks and data banks;

(d) Develop common programs for training scientific and
technological cadres, including the training and further training of skilled manpower.

3. The following areas have been identified as priorities:

(a) Setting up of national policies for the development and application of science and technology with a view to facilitating their integration into national economic and social development plans;

(b) Preparation and implementation of national strategies
for scientific research and technological development programs to fulfil the needs of the continent;

(c) Reform of educational systems, keeping in mind local
and cultural factors, in order to adopt better educational approach for the development of scientific and technical skills to meet the specific needs of the African communities;

(d) Development of programs for training scientific and
technological cadres, including the training of trainers and further training of skilled manpower with a view to establishing socioeconomic climate conducive to the development and utilization of science and technology;

(e) Harmonization and adoption of laws and practices for
the acquisition of technology inter alia by way of common regulations on intellectual property, foreign direct investment, joint ventures licensing and the transfer of technologies, considering its adaptation to local conditions.

(f) Adoption and harmonization of immigration, investment
and trade policies which are supportive of science and technology and endogenous capacity building.

4. Furthermore, member States shall develop mechanisms for the popularization of appropriate technologies (new and traditional) for promoting the application of science and technology to development and give necessary attention to women, recognizing the role that they can play in the diffusion of technologies within their communities. It is in this context that member States have to take actions, individually and collectively, to implement the provisions of the Protocol.

5. As regard to the role of ECA, it has formally joined OAU and ADB in the implementation of the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community and it is expected to play an important role in many areas, including economics and science and technology.

6. The Treaty establishing the African Economic Community is part of a global trend towards the building of larger economic zones and the realization of the Community will undoubtedly reduce the fragmentation of the continent and contribute to its prosperity. However, Africa lags many years behind other continents in terms of economic, scientific and technological integration and the process of integration must be accelerated. The Treaty and its Protocols offer an instrument and a political commitment to achieve this objective.

7. Articles 51 and 52 of the Treaty deal specifically with science and technology issues and are in force since May 1993. These articles should be used as starting points for promoting cooperation and coordination in the field of science and technology, for harmonization and integration of science and technology policies and programmes on the continent, and for regional capacity building in science and technology in general. Areas of cooperation that should be strengthened include policy institutions building, policy formulation, information and documentation, training and harmonization of laws and regulations that affect the contribution and performance of science and technology. Coordination should be strengthened in the field of R & D effort and international negotiation related to science and technology. Regional integration can also be supported by revitalizing professional and intergovernmental institutions in science and technology.

8. The draft Protocol, in its present form, is not much different in its spirit from other regional policy documents in science and technology adopted by the highest political authorities, such as the science and technology chapter of the Lagos Plan of Action, CASTAFRICA 1 and 11 and the declarations of the PanAfrican Union of Scientists and Technologists. The draft document displays the same strengths: it calls for cooperation, coordination, establishment or strengthening of infrastructure, institutions and programs, harmonization of laws and policies and political commitment to science and technology. It also displays the same weaknesses: it is rather silent on the economic reforms that are necessary for science and technology to play its full and strategic role in development. These concern supportive or conducive trade, investment, licensing, joint venture, credit, venture capital, immigration, intellectual property protection and technology transfer laws and regulations within the context of a stable, private, liberal, market-oriented and open economy.

9. It is hoped that the draft Protocol, once approved, will provide a roadmap for African countries to guide their policy reforms.

10. Issues to be discussed include:

~ Is the Protocol known in African countries? ~ Are African countries satisfied with this Protocol? ~ Are African countries serious about its
implementation? ~ What should be the best way to deal with the Protocol
(national seminar, policy study, policy statement) ? ~ Are there any specific amendments that should be
considered? ~ Are the economic aspects of science and technology
sufficiently covered? ~ Should there be a mechanism at national level for
monitoring its implementation? ------------------------------------

From: Date: Tue, 12 Mar 96 12:47:53 +0000 Subject: padis7 Message-ID: <>

Back to document index


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