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International partnerships for new and emerging technologies for sustainable development

Background:

Science and technology have had a profound impact on human development. Today rapid advances in such fields as information, telecommunications, clean environment, energy, health, materials, and transportation technologies, as well as biotechnology, electronics and nano-technology - the new and emerging technologies (NETs) - dominate science and technology innovation and development. Achieving the goals of the Millennium Declaration and of sustainable development requires the application of science and environmentally sound technologies In order for developing countries to meet these goals, they will need access to environmentally sound technologies, which requires technology transfer, technical cooperation and building a scientific and technological capacity to participate in the development and adaptation of these technologies to local conditions. The current North-South gap in the generation of NETs and their application to practical problems constitutes a “technological divide” that must be bridged if developing nations are to participate effectively.

Science and technology parks are a means of supporting a knowledge-based economy, and fostering market-oriented technological development. They typically accomplish this by bringing together academic, business and governmental organizations into one physical location, and supporting interrelationships between these groups through incentives established by government policies. In addition to providing space for business and production, the science and technology park can house centres for scientific research, and technological innovation and incubation, training, and forecasting, as well as facilities for fairs, exhibitions and market development through popularization. An International Association of Science Parks (IASP) exists that has members from 55 countries. In terms of the technology sectors, most of the existing science and technology parks emphasize NETs.

Objective:

Establish a small network of science and technology parks willing to share information with efforts taking place to establish, in Africa, science and technology parks focusing on new and emerging technologies (NETs) for sustainable development. Specifically the project will facilitate and assist in the development of one science and technology park on NETs for sustainable development in one African country within a regional activity.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Establishment of a network of science and technology parks for new and emerging technologies, with a task force of representatives designated by network members
  • Enhanced regional and national capacity for the establishment and management of science and technology parks for sustainable development in Africa
  • Formulation of a development plan for a science and technology park in an African nation (such as Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi or Senegal), including its location, the nature of the facility, its technology focus, funding arrangements and short, medium and long-term goals for promoting the role of business-science partnerships in utilizing new and emerging technologies for sustainable development
  • Increased support for the network, its task force and their activities, in particular for the realization of the development plan for a science and technology park in Africa

Implementation status:

Ghana and Senegal were offered to participate in the project based on the results of an independent assessment and evaluation. Both countries accepted the offer. Project management teams were set up in both countries. The initial task of the team will consist of gathering technical, economic and financial data to be used as material for in-country training workshops on decision-making tools for science and technology parks. At the same time fundraising efforts have been made and the World Bank and private investors were approached. The World Bank expressed interest in joining DESA in the development of a park in Takoradi, Ghana in the area of information and communication technology.