Freelance journalist, SciDev.Net
It has never been disputed that Africa must increase her spending on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). It is also true that research on the continent is heavily funded by donors, with governments prioritizing expenditure on social development.
Calls have been made for authorities to raise STI spending and the African Union (AU) countries have all agreed, resolving to increase funding to at least one per cent of their GDP. This, however, has never happened, and only South Africa comes remotely close to attaining that figure.
But next year, Kenya could become the first country to reach this target, and perhaps even exceed it.
The country’s minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, Margaret Kamar, says her ministry has prepared an STI policy bill that has recommended that the government ups spending on this key sector to two per cent.“The draft bill has now been approved by the cabinet ahead of debate in parliament,” she told the Africa Science Journalists Conference. “The good news is that the cabinet has unanimously agreed on recommendations for increased funding.”
The move means that the draft law will now move to parliament for debate and enactment. Since there is no apparent reason why the funding would be opposed, the STI sector in Kenya should be successful.
This could begin as soon as next June when budget proposals are tabled before parliament, making the east African country compliant with STI funding agreements.
There is reason for optimism after all.
This blog post is part of our Africa Science Journalists Conference 2012 blog, which takes place 20-23 August in Nakuru, Kenya. To read news and analysis on science journalism please visit our website.