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IFS and AAS host a Consultative Meeting on Scientific Equipment Policy

Published: 2015-09-09

On 20-21 August, 2015, IFS hosted a Consultative Meeting on Scientific Equipment Policy together with our long-standing partner the African Academy of Sciences near Nairobi. This is one of the concluding activities in the current phase of a MacArthur Foundation-funded project. In addition to colleagues from AAS and IFS, the 42 participants included representatives of academies of sciences and research institutes in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa; ANAFE; BecA; CEMASTEA; icipe; IOCD; KNEC, NACOSTI, the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, several universities, institutes and education organizations in Kenya; NEPAD agencies; Seeding Labs; UNESCO; and IFS alumni from six African countries. The meeting’s purpose was to raise Pan-African awareness of how the identification and resolution of scientific equipment issues are critical for scientific development in Africa, and to identify national and regional channels to share learned experiences and to influence policy on scientific equipment.

Following welcome remarks from Prof Berhanu Abegaz, AAS Director, Dr Graham Haylor, IFS Director, and a message delivered on behalf of Maciej Nalecz, Director of UNCESCO's SC/PCB, the meeting was opened by HE Dr Moses K Rugutt, Director General of Kenya's National Commission for Science Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI), on behalf of HE Professor Jacob Kaimenyi, the Cabinet Secretary for Higher Education, Science and Technology. Participants were then informed about the project's history, outcomes and outputs by Dr Nighisty Ghezae of IFS and Dr Benjamin Gyampoh of AAS. Representatives from Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya gave presentations about their respective countries' present efforts at policy change with regards to scientific equipment, effective approaches to advocacy, actors and roles in policy change advocacy, and recommendations to identify and engage with scientific equipment policy change channels.

IFS alumni spoke about their experiences as early-career scientists of a range of issues dealing with scientific equipment and policy advocacy, followed by a presentation on microscience, scientific equipment and policy approaches by Prof John Bradley of RADMASTE Centre in South Africa, and Prof James Cosentino of IOCD. From the day's presentations and deliberations came a spectrum of themes for more detailed discussion, of which participants settled on three to focus their energies: microscience, the impact of research on national development, and existing national and regional frameworks and bodies. From these came suggestions on channels of advocacy for policy change on scientific equipment and who needs to work together.

The meeting concluded with each participant making an informal or formal commitment to take forward efforts at scientific equipment policy change. These ranged from broad intentions to raise awareness about these issues at institutional, national and regional levels, to specific commitments of collaboration and funding. Prof Berhanu Abegaz said, "AAS will pursue an advocacy role to persuade governments and institutions to develop clearly articulated guidelines for the procurement, manufacture, installation, shared use, operation and maintenance of scientific equipment, including microscience equipment. I see our reference to 'equipment policy' as guidelines for equipment within a national STI policy and procurement policy." Dr Graham Haylor also reaffirmed IFS's long-standing commitment to address scientific equipment issues as a contribution to the development of Africa's scientific endeavors.

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