Fight against poaching must empower communities

Annette Hübschle, University of Cape Town

Wildlife crimes – like rhino poaching, overfishing or the harvesting of cycads – were once considered a “green” matter. But this has changed. Such crimes have moved higher up on global security and policy agendas.

This is partly linked to concerns about the extinction of species and the demise of ecosystems. It’s also been sparked by the involvement of organised criminal networks in illegal wildlife supply chains.

#WorldRhinoDay rhino poaching Africa

Local communities across Africa need to be drawn into conservation decisions to fight wildlife crime.
Siegfried Modola/Reuters

 

The UN General Assembly is among those paying more attention to wildlife crimes. It has adopted three resolutions to tackle wildlife crimes in the last two years. Southern African Development Community member states and their respective law enforcement agencies have also declared wildlife trafficking a priority crime issue.

Rhino poaching has particularly captured public attention. A plethora of protective and regulatory national and international measures aimed at disrupting the consumer markets and criminal networks that allow the trade to flourish have failed.

The problem is that such approaches – which have been applied to other kinds of wildlife crime too – most deal with wildlife crime’s symptoms rather than its root causes: a conflict over access to land, resources and benefits

It’s time to change tack and see conservation issues like rhino poaching for the damage they do – especially to poor people.

Little benefit to communities

This is not a policy problem. The important role of local people in protecting and managing natural resources has started to become a policy prerogative in many southern African countries. Implementation and accountability are the issues.

The reality is that wildlife conservation continues to benefit economic and political elites. Local and indigenous communities remain mostly excluded from real benefits, and conservation often comes at a huge cost to them. They lose their land, access to natural resources and cultural sites. They have limited agency and ownership of areas and management. Often the only benefits accruing to communities from wildlife and conservation derive from the poaching profits that trickle down to grassroots level.

Instead of recognising local people as important change agents in wildlife conservation, conservators are calling for more boots on the ground, helicopter gunships and new technologies. Securocrats are leading the war on rhino poaching. Money is spent on security officials and private investigators. Expensive technologies are brought in to deter poachers.

The securitisation of anti-poaching measures has led to increasing anger among communities and negative sentiments against protected areas and conservation management authorities. This is because some poachers return from such areas in body bags, if at all, or end up in correctional centres. In this environment, locals living around parks and reserves see wild animals as being considered more valuable than their own lives.

Structural inequality

South Africa – where I’ve conducted some of my research – is home to some of the world’s largest and most diverse populations of endangered plants, animals and mineral resources. It is also one of the world’s most economically and structurally unequal societies.

This structural inequality is clear in who benefits from conservation in general, protected areas and profits associated with the sustainable use of natural resources. Communities have lost land, hunting rights, access to grazing and cultural sites to make space for wild animals, Disney-style safari parks and private reserves.

The state, hunters, farmers, tourist operators and other economic elites have benefited from conservation. Local communities have enjoyed few benefits apart from menial jobs as trackers, rangers and cooks and occasional donations of game or elephant meat. The restitution of property, cultural and hunting rights has either not been tackled at all or only partially attempted in a top-down fashion with no input from the affected communities.

So it is perhaps not surprising that some people who struggle to make a living might be tempted into poaching. Rhino horn’s street value is greater than that of gold and platinum. Rural residents can make more from poaching and selling a single rhino horn than they usually would in an entire year. This makes communities vulnerable to organised crime networks which recruit poachers from areas around large reserves.

These networks are the real criminals, along with corrupt government officials and members of the wildlife and conservation industries who facilitate the flow of illicit wildlife and plant contraband.

Community empowerment is key

But law enforcement officials and policymakers have been focusing their efforts on reining in poachers rather than buyers and intermediaries. These intermediaries organise and coordinate the transfer of wildlife contraband and other natural resources from the bush to the market. They are usually well connected and have access to transnational trade networks.

Some scholars have started to look at the root causes of environmental and wildlife crimes by considering broader economic, political and systemic factors. Their assessment is that broad based community empowerment is key. This will not only address structural inequality and poverty, but can alleviate wildlife crime and other types of crime. This is borne out by Namibia’s experiences: there, former poachers have become wildlife guardians.

Is the fight against organised environmental crime more important than the dismantling of organised structural inequality and poverty? Or are the responses to these societal ills interlinked? Local communities may, for example, become protectors of wildlife and conservation areas if they were granted agency, ownership and benefits.

Although not perfect, the example of communal conservancies in Namibia provides fascinating insights into the process of incentivising communities. One thing is clear: we need to create happy sustainable communities that benefit from and live in harmony with ecosystems.

The ConversationThis article is based on a longer article first published in the South African Crime Quarterly. The special issue was funded by the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime.

Annette Hübschle, Senior research fellow and postdoctoral researcher: Institute for Safety Governance and Criminology, University of Cape Town

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Remarks by Donald Trump at Lunch with African Leaders

U.S. President Donald J. Trump met on Wednesday afternoon with several African heads of state and government, at a working lunch hosted by himself and First Lady Melania Trump at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel.

Here are the remarks Trump delivered to the group, as released by the White House press office. The Washington Post has published an annotated version of President Trump’s brief speech.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much, General. I appreciate it. And I’m greatly honored to host this lunch, to be joined by the leaders of Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, and South Africa. In particular, I want to thank President Condé, who is representing the African Union. Thank you. Thank you.

Donald Trump Africa UNGA General Assembly United NationsIn this room, I see partners for promoting prosperity and peace on a range of economic, humanitarian, and security issues. We hope to extend our economic partnerships with countries who are committed to self-reliance and to fostering opportunities for job creation in both Africa and the United States.

Africa has tremendous business potential. I have so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. I congratulate you. They’re spending a lot of money. But it does — it has a tremendous business potential and representing huge amounts of different markets. And for American firms it’s really become a place that they have to go — that they want to go.

of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies are in Africa. Increasing American trade and investment across diverse industries — including agriculture, energy, transportation, healthcare, travel, and tourism — will further transform lives throughout the continent. Secretary Tillerson and the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation are already considering an investment worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Côte d’Ivoire, which has made impressive economic reforms. Really, you’ve done a tremendous job.

We also hope that African firms — like the company Sasol –consider making investments in the United States. Sasol, as an example, is building a $9 billion petrochemical plant in Louisiana, which will bring new jobs to the state and, really, hardworking Americans will be manning those jobs.

we cannot have prosperity if we’re not healthy. We will continue our partnership on critical health initiatives. Uganda has made incredible strides in the battle against HIV/AIDS. In Guinea and Nigeria, you fought a horrifying Ebola outbreak. Namibia’s health system is increasingly self-sufficient. My Secretary of Health and Human Services will be traveling to Africa to promote our Global Health Security Agenda.

Yet, we know that our prosperity depends, above all, on peace. The United States will partner with the countries and organizations, like the African Union, that lead successful efforts to end violence, to prevent the spread of terrorism, and to respond to humanitarian crises. I commend your troops currently serving in the field. Very brave. Very, very brave what they’re going through.

you well know, too many people are suffering from conflict in Africa. In the Central African Republic, the Congo, Libya, Mali, Somalia, and South Sudan, among others, they’re going through some very, very tough and very dangerous times. Terrorist groups, such as ISIS, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, and al Qaeda also threaten African peace. The United States is proud to work with you to eradicate terrorist safe havens, to cut off their finances, and to discredit their depraved ideology. And a number of you have told me — actually, last night — that we’ve been doing a very good job over the last six or seven months in particular.

We’re closely monitoring and deeply disturbed by the ongoing violence in South Sudan and in the Congo. Millions of lives are at risk, and we continue to provide humanitarian assistance. But real results in halting this catastrophe will require an African-led peace process and a sincere — really sincere commitment of all parties involved. And I know you’re working on that, and you’re working on that very hard. To assist in these efforts, I’m sending Ambassador Nikki Haley to Africa to discuss avenues of conflict and resolution and, most importantly, prevention.

I want to discuss our partnership against a global challenge. Today, the world faces an enormous security threat from North Korean regime. We must all stand together and be accountable in implementing United Nations sanctions and resolutions in response to North Korea’s hostile and menacing actions.

We believe that a free, independent, and democratic nation, in all cases, is the best vehicle for human happiness and success. Thank you for joining me for this critical discussion of the challenges and the opportunities facing our nations.

Africa, I have to say, is a continent of tremendous, tremendous potential. The outlook is bright. I look forward to hearing from you and your advice during the meal. I thought rather than just eating, we’ll have long discussions — and I look forward to that very much. But I also look forward to getting to know so many of you, and so many of you I do know. And it’s an honor. It’s an honor.

And I really want to congratulate you — growing very fast economically and in every other way. You’ve done a terrific job, you’ve had some tremendous obstacles placed in your path, but you have done, really, an absolutely incredible job.

So I want to thank you, and I look forward to our discussion. Thank you.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
END 1:36 P.M. EDT

African Leaders Speak at UN General Assembly (Part 1)

The 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly convened earlier this week. As noted on the UN web site, “The annual General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly is the occasion for world leaders to gather at UN Headquarters to discuss global issues.” The theme of the general debate this year is “Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet.”

Each day this week, heads of state and government or their surrogates (mostly foreign ministers) address the General Assembly to offer their own thoughts on the theme and other global or regional issues that concern them.

Here are excerpts from speeches presented on September 19 by African leaders, in the order in which they were presented.

His Excellency Mr. Alpha Condé, President of the Republic of Guinea (UN Summary, in English):

Guinea Conde United NationsToday more than ever, Africa was determined to take its destiny into its own hands and be the main stakeholder in its development, while also taking a leading role in managing international affairs. It would not be an easy task, but Africa had the potential and assets to take its place as one of the greatest continents on the world stage. The interdependence of the challenges facing humanity required a paradigm shift in perceptions and actions concerning Africa. The continent’s priorities must be tackled with pragmatism, as destinies were no longer fragmented in the world. The massive flow of refugees, large-scale migration and natural disasters were a sad illustration of that reality. The new approach much put greater emphasis on human beings. The adoption of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 on the regional level were a significant step forward in the fight against poverty, if all commitments were kept.

Africa had been the most dynamic continent over the last decade, and forecasts indicated that trend would continue, he said. Economies must be diversified to make them more resilient through investments in areas like agriculture, infrastructure, information and communications technology (ICT), and energy. Such a structural transformation would depend on access to energy, although economic integration would require the effective implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area. The African Union had sought a lasting solution to the numerous challenges confronting young people to make that part of society the real driving force for development. He urged the international community to support an African initiative that sought to recruit, train and deploy 2 million health-care workers across the continent.

(Full statement, in French)

His Excellency Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria:

Muhammadu Buhari Nigeria UNGA4. In an exemplary show of solidarity, the international community came together within my own region to assist the countries and communities in the Sahel and the Lake Chad regions to contain the threats posed by Al Qaida and Boko Haram.

5. We thank the Security Council for visiting the countries of the Lake Chad Basin to assess the security situation and humanitarian needs, and for pledging assistance to rebuild lives and livelihoods. Indeed, in Nigeria we are providing humanitarian assistance to millions relief and in IDP camps and those afflicted by terrorism, drought, floods and other natural disasters….

7. Our faith in democracy remains firm and unshaken. Our regional organisation ECOWAS came together to uphold democratic principles in The Gambia- as we had done previously in Cote D’Ivoire.

8. Through our individual national efforts, state institutions are being strengthened to promote accountability, and to combat corruption and asset recovery. These can only be achieved through the international community cooperating and providing critical assistance and material support. We shall also cooperate in addressing the growing transnational crimes such as forced labour, modern day slavery, human trafficking and cybercrime.

(Full statement, as prepared for delivery)

Her Excellency Ms. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia:

Our theme this year, Focusing on People – Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for all on a Sustainable Planet is one which aptly captures a universal aspiration. I hope that at the conclusion of our deliberations, we will forge a consensus and renew our commitment as leaders to transform the lives of our people and meet our responsibility to our planet. The work of the United Nations has never been more important to the search for peace and the sustenance for global stability than it is today.

Ellen Sirleaf Johnson UNGA LiberiaBy its charter and purposes, the United Nations still represents the genius of our collective ability to live together in peace and harmony. It still offers great hope to a troubled world. Liberians bear witness to this truth, and remain grateful to the United Nations, and all of its organs and agencies, for the critical security interventions, and continued support toward Liberia’s recovery and democratic aspirations.

Mr. President, eleven years ago, in September of 2006, I stood before this august body as the newly elected president of the Republic of Liberia, and, the first woman to be democratically elected as head of State on the African continent.

Today, I address you for the last time as I bring to closure my two terms of elected office. Liberia is just 22 days away from historic legislative and presidential elections. It will mark the first time in 73 years that political power will be handed over peacefully, and democratically, from one elected leader to another. This paves the way for the next generation of Liberians to lead the country into the future.

The election will signal the irreversible course that Liberia has embarked upon to consolidate its young, post-conflict democracy. Indeed, democracy is on the march in Liberia and, I believe, on an irreversible path forward on the African continent.

(Full statement, as prepared for delivery)

His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia:

Over the past year, Zambia has registered important developmental gains and we are determined to foster an all-inclusive development paradigm based on the Africa Union Agenda 2063 and the UN Agenda 2030 for sustainable development.

Lungu Zambia UNGAOnly a few months ago on 21st June, 2017, I had the honour to launch the seventh national development plan (7NDP), Zambia’s developmental blueprint for the five year period from 2017 up to 2021, under the theme “Accelerating Development Efforts Towards the Attainment of the National Vision 2030 Without Leaving Anyone Behind”.

The plan seeks to improve productivity in agriculture, create opportunities for unskilled wage employment in other sectors with greater potential, like manufacturing. Particular attention will be given to the uplifting of standards of living in the rural areas, where a new focus on agro-value addition is being implemented. Through this plan Zambia aims to reduce poverty to very minimal levels.

My government has integrated into the national development planning framework the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the African Union Agenda 2063 and all other global and regional developmental initiatives. We are determined to build an inclusive development framework without leaving anyone behind.

Furthermore, in keeping with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAA) on financing for development, my government is determined to ensure the effective mobilization and use of all sources of finance, whether locally mobilized or through our international cooperating partners, for the benefit of the average person in Zambia.

(Full statement, as prepared for delivery)

His Excellency Mr. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, President of the Republic of Mali (UN Summary, in English):

Keita Mali UNGAThe United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), along with national authorities, was now working to stabilize a “new front” in the centre of the country, he said. Paying tribute to the troops that had paid the highest price during the conflict, he also thanked the Council for its adoption of resolution 2364 (2017) renewing the Mission’s mandate, and resolution 2374 (2017) setting up the legal framework for the sanctions regime on those responsible for obstructing the implementation of the peace agreement. Noting that the worsening of the country’s security situation had negatively impacted the agreement’s implementation, he said it also posed a threat to global security, as it was marked by the trafficking of drugs, persons and arms, as well as terrorism. “They are claiming lives in the course of criminal and asymmetric attacks,” he said, adding that no country could tackle such cross-border threats alone.

Noting that such challenges had led to the establishment of the “Group of 5 for the Sahel” (Sahel G-5) — namely, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad — he said the Group had set up a joint force to fight against transnational organized crime, trafficking and related issues. He wished that the Council’s resolutions had been undertaken under Chapter VII of the Charter, which would have allowed for the financing of that force. “We are working relentlessly to make this force effective and operational,” he said, expressing hope that further operations would begin in October 2018. Inviting all Member States to attend the upcoming financing conference, he said “the battle we are carrying out in the Sahel must be maintained” and warned that its failure would pose a threat to the world. Pointing out that the Sahel G-5 also placed a high priority on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, he called on the international community to support its Priority Investment Programme, including by attending an “Invest in Mali” conference in Bamako in December.

(Full statement, in French)

His Excellency Mr. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda:

Museveni Korea UNGAParasitism is the only obstacle to global affluence, prosperity and peace.

On the dangerous situation on the Korean Peninsula, where very dangerous instruments of mass extermination are paraded around by the two contending sides, I have one question. Who would lose if North Korea and South Korea, those kith and kin, were left alone to discuss their re-unification? The Korean nation came into existence ever since 1234AD.

They were temporarily divided towards the end of the 2nd World War. Why should this division be allowed to be permanent and a source of dangerous tensions? A unified Korea would be a very strong nation. Why do some actors fear strong nations in the world? Why should the Koreans themselves (North and South) allow external forces to continue to divide them? We always strive not to allow actors, foreign or local, to divide the African peoples, regardless of the complications involved. When you hear that Uganda accommodates many African refugees, it is on account of a conscious ideological position — not to allow any actors to divide us. We only fight traitors. Who has been hurt by a unified Vietnam since 1975 although the method of their unification was not the best one? Who has been hurt by the re-unification of Germany in 1990? On the small issue of enforcing sanctions against North Korea, Uganda is in compliance. We do not have to trade with North Korea. We are, however, grateful that, in the past, the North Koreans helped us to build our tank forces.

(Full statement, as prepared for delivery)

His Excellency Mr. Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia:

The recent political crisis that took place in my country created a new democratic beginning and the experience taught us useful lessons that Gambians will not easily forget. We learnt that will power and national unity, decisive regional intervention as well as undivided and clear support of the international community could produce positive outcomes. Also of importance, was the coordinated international action inspired by our common values of solidarity, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of iaw which was critical in sending the right message to the former President to respect the will of the people and leave without bloodshed.

Adama Barrow UN General Assembly GambiaDuring those difficult times, we knew we had friends, ones who came to our aid and who have since kept faith with us. We therefore would like to seize this great opportunity to thank the leaders of ECOWAS for their timely and firm intervention in bringing peace to The Gambia. We also thank all our regional and international friends who stood by us in our critical hour of need.

Thanks to your collective efforts, The Gambia is now on a solid path to peace and good governance and ready to take over our traditional role among the champions of human rights and democracy. Gambians have made an irreversible choice to close a dark chapter in our history and today, our national agenda is one of reform and transformation.

Like any restored democracy, we are facing enormous challenges in the revival of our economy, a comprehensive reform of our laws, our administrative and judicial institutions. The modernization of our security sector, consolidation of the rule of law and human rights are part of our reform programme. It is only by overcoming these challenges that we can reinforce our democratic gains and my Government is committed to delivering a New Gambia that is fit for our children to be proud of.

indeed, young people were all along at the forefront of our democratic transition and addressing youth unemployment, which is a top priority of my government, will no doubt create enormous opportunities.

(Full statement, as prepared for delivery)

His Excellency Mr. Isselkou Ould Ahmed Izid Bih, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Islamic Republic of Mauritania:

Despite a complex regional situation, experts had noted its success in dealing with terrorism and extremism while paying due attention to individual and collective rights. Since 2016 it had also further established democracy and the rule of law. Illegal immigration had been reduced to zero, while the country hosted more than 60,000 refugees.

Mauritania UNGA 2017 General AssemblyMauritania had played a leading role in establishing the Sahel G-5 and hosted that regional organization’s secretariat, he said. Slavery had been criminalized and legislation strengthened to address the vestiges of servitude. Women had acquired greater importance through initiatives that made them more present in all sectors, including those once monopolized by men. In view of its strategic location, Mauritania had striven to attract foreign investment with policies that sought to guarantee investors’ rights.

He called on the Assembly to work towards the establishment of an independent Palestinian State and for the crisis in Yemen to be settled through support for its President. Mauritania called on all parties in Libya to redouble their efforts to stand up to armed groups. In Syria, it urged all concerned parties to reach a settlement.

On climate change, he said shifting sand dunes were destroying agricultural and grazing lands in Mauritania, which was preparing appropriate policies and investing in renewable energy sources. He noted that Mauritania hosted the headquarters of the 7,000-kilometre-long Great Green Wall from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, benefitting 11 countries. He said his country hoped all parties to the Paris Agreement would uphold their commitments. He also said that reforming the United Nations — including the Security Council — was an urgent necessity.

(Excerpt from UN Summary; full statement in Arabic)

Excerpts from speeches delivered September 20 will be published on September 21.

Initiative to build African science journalism capacity

By Sam Otieno

[GRAHAMSTOWN, SOUTH AFRICA] A two-year programme has been launched to build capacity of science journalists and improve science coverage in Africa.

It was launched this month (1 September) with the aim of recognising the important role of science journalism in promoting Africa’s socioeconomic development.

The project is being funded by the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and in partnership with the African Federation of Science Journalists (AFSJ) and the South African Science Journalists Association, according to Deborah-Fay Ndlovu, the project’s manager and the communication manager of AAS, without disclosing the total funding for the project.

“Not many African science journalists have the capacity to write good articles, hence they require hand-holding.”

Deborah-Fay Ndlovu, The African Academy of Sciences (AAS)

The project will focus on strategic areas of the AAS including health and wellbeing, climate change, food security and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) with targeted journalists from Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa in the first phase.

After the successful implementation of the project in the four countries, it will be opened to more countries in Africa such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Ndlovu tells SciDev.Net that most publications in Africa are closing due to insufficient funding, and few focus on science: “This make many science stories not to be published in African media houses.”

“Not many African science journalists have the capacity to write good articles, hence they require hand-holding,” adds Ndlovu.

Through the project, journalists will be mentored in science reporting by senior science journalists in Africa and the rest of the world to refine and improve their pitches, help them build stories and eventually report credible articles.

“This will contribute to the quality of science reporting in Africa, hence creating an impact to the society and increase awareness for more funding,” Ndlovu explains.

Mandi Smallhorne, president of the AFSJ and an executive board member of the World Federation of Science Journalists, says strong science journalism is essential to development and democracy in Africa: “Science is a foundation stone of development, but if people don’t fully understand it, they can’t make voting choices that will support wise development.”

The challenges and the opportunities that face African countries today and in the foreseeable future are in many ways science-related.

“We need journalists who are able to read and interrogate scientific papers, and … interview scientists and retell their stories so that lay audiences can understand them,” notes Smallhorne, adding that science journalists are key to helping people understand many issues including climate change impacts, the causes of fatal mudslides such as the recent one in Sierra Leone, new seed technologies, renewable energy choices or new epidemics.

Smallhorne, a freelance science journalist based in South Africa, urges African governments to support science journalists because they can help boost African science by turning the spotlight on scientific research being conducted on the continent.

This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.

 

This article was originally published on SciDev.Net. Read the original article.

Invest in infrastructure to retain Africa’s scientists

By Laura Owings

African countries lack the infrastructure and entrepreneurial support needed to retain science graduates, thus impacting scientific independence and contributing to the continent’s so called ‘brain drain’, a conference has heard.

The Science in Africa UnConference, held in London last month (20 July) by the Planet Earth Institute, aimed to promote the successes and address the challenges of the continent’s use of science and technology for development.

“We need to couple training with investment in infrastructure and support for entrepreneurship so we can create jobs and careers that make science attractive.”

Kelly Chibale, University of Cape Town (UCT)

“African-led innovation from a research and development perspective has historically been hampered by a critical mass of skilled scientists, as well as very poor access to infrastructure and enabling technologies,” says Kelly Chibale, a professor of organic chemistry at the South Africa-based University of Cape Town (UCT). “We need to couple training with investment in infrastructure and support for entrepreneurship so we can create jobs and careers that make science attractive.”

Chibale is the founder and director of the Drug Discovery and Development Centre, H3D at the UCT. H3D scientists were involved in the recent discovery of the promising new antimalaria drug candidate.

Chibale tells SciDev.Net that Africa does not have a lack of scientists, but lacks the enabling infrastructure. If this were improved, he says that scientists would be able to work more effectively, projects would access funding from abroad and Africa would be able to attract and retain talent.

“By attracting talent and allowing people to put to work the training they’ve received, we can reverse brain drain,” he says.

Recruiting and keeping science graduates should also involve supporting educators, adds Senamile Masango, a nuclear physics postgraduate student at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa and a member of the first African team to lead an experiment at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, Switzerland.

“The continent should come up with grassroots programmes that encourage and keep science teachers in villages, and groom young people for science careers,” she says.

According to Youssef Travaly, director of programmes and content for the Next Einstein Foundation, a platform that connects science, society and policy in Africa and the rest of the world, human capital and infrastructure must be combined with government support.

Policymakers must build a road map to show a vision of the most promising areas of science where they can invest, and develop a well-balanced portfolio of people with skills ranging from researchers to developers and engineers,” Travaly says.

He adds that the focus should be on offering pan-African grants that involve knowledge transfer and include opportunities for public-private partnerships.

The H3D in South Africa is an example of the value of public-private partnerships, according to Chibale, noting that 70 per cent of the centre’s funding is foreign, attracted in part because the South African government made a commitment to match outside funding for the project.

“This is a good example for the rest of Africa to follow. Investors will see that our governments support us and provide us with infrastructure and are willing to put cash into our projects,” he says.

This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.

 

This article was originally published on SciDev.Net. Read the original article.