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Comesa zone launches innovation council

By , ITWeb
Africa , 10 Apr 2013

Comesa zone launches innovation council

Science, technology and innovation government ministers in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) zone plan to establish an ‘innovation council’ for member states.

Up to 19 member states -- including the likes of Egypt, Kenya and Zimbabwe -- form part of Comesa.

Comesa’s website says the bloc covers a geographical area of 12 million square kilometres and represents a population of over 389 million, with annual an export bill of $82 billion.

And the group says it wants to harness existing science and technology knowledge from across the globe to help benefit its member states.

In a statement, Comesa says the first step in implementing this strategy is for it to establish an innovation council “made up of eminent personalities drawn from academia, business and government that can use their stature, experience and knowledge, and their repertoire of contacts.”

“The council should as its primary responsibility provide advice to member states relating to existing and new knowledge and innovations, and the best ways of applying the knowledge and innovations in the member states,” Comesa says in a statement.

In addition, Comesa says the council is planned to be tasked with choosing winners for an annual innovation award.

Comesa says procedures for these awards are expected to be modeled on the UK’s Queen Elizabeth Prize in Engineering, which is valued at 1 million pounds.

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering is a global award recognising individuals responsible for ‘groundbreaking innovation’ in engineering. Inaugural winners of the £1 million prize were announced in March this year.
Furthermore, Comesa ministers in the region say they plan to establish ‘Science and Technology Parks’, ‘Artisanal and Industrial Clusters’, and the creation of a ‘Comesa regional Information Technology (ICT fund).’

The fund in particular is geared at the Comesa region developing and implementing science and technology programmes and projects from the design stage. Research is also intended to be a beneficiary of the fund, according to Comesa.

Comesa adds that ministers have even agreed to “harmonise the ICT curricula in the Comesa region for all learning institutions providing courses that relate to information technology and innovation and also allocate at least 1% of GDP to research and development.”

“Most learning institutions in the region have different curricula and that the situation has made it difficult for the sector to thrive,” Comesa notes in its statement.

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