The British journal Nature has published an excellent series called “Science in Africa” which examines the growth of the research and development community across the continent. An excerpt:
The forecast for science in Africa has brightened over the past decade. After enduring civil wars and economic crises, many countries have entered a period of rapid growth and leaders are starting to see science and technology as the keys to progress. In 2006, members of the African Union endorsed a target for each nation to spend 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on research and development (R&D).
South Africa, Uganda and Malawi appear to be investing the most in trying to expand their scientific and technology base. Nigeria, as the publications map below shows, is way ahead of other nations in terms of publishing its scientific findings and reports.
Africa’s most populous nation wants to catapult itself into the world’s top 20 economies by 2020. And science and technology is a central part of the strategy. Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, has a PhD in zoology, and in the first few weeks after being elected he approved a US$5-million grant to the Nigerian Academy of Science to support its work.
The series goes on to examine the widely varying growth of R&D in different African nations and the reasons for this. It’s a lengthy series but interesting — and provides a nice counterpoint to the stereotypical view of Africa as a place where nothing ever gets better and science is a foreign concept.