Summit proposes bold strategies

The 9th annual AfrICANDO summit on “Science, Technology and Research for Africa’s Development” facilitated groundbreaking dialogue on bringing the African Diasporas scientific capacities to bear on continental African social and economic development.

Participants at the July 2006 African Union (AU) sponsored Science and Technology Conference produced a plan of action that calls for setting up a Diaspora Development Fund to finance proposed projects; study abroad exchange programmes and exchange projects involving students in Africa and the Diaspora; and a Knowledge Exchange Summer Programme (KESP) that will send African scientists and professionals from the Diaspora to Africa and from Africa to the Diaspora for short-term development assignments.

Diaspora Africans are taking up an unprecedented role of direct input into the African Union governing structure, activating an amendment to its Constitutive act in February 2003 that includes article (3q) which recognises the African Diaspora as constituents of the AU, to be consulted on all affairs of the Union.

The four-day conference (July 19-22), organised by the Foundation for Democracy in Africa (FDA), the AU Commission’s Department for Human Resources, Science and Technology, and the Western Hemisphere African Diaspora Network (WHADN), was hosted by Florida Memorial University and Miami Dade College.

The Conference brought together some of Africa’s best scientists, information technologists, engineers, health professionals, and economists based in American universities and from around the Western Hemisphere to dialogue with their colleagues from the Diaspora, and with AU officials, and to devise strategies and programs that will advance science, technology and economic freedom in Africa.

Also, Enterprise Florida Southern Africa along with the US Embassy’s Commercial Service at the Ronald H Brown Commercial Centre co-hosted a group of South African Universities, Economic Development Agencies City Officials, Export Councils, companies and the South African Department of Science and Technology where they participated in the Opening Ceremony via a web link.

This unfolding cooperation across continents is testimony that a new development paradigm and energy are being unleashed to service the cause of social progress in the continent.

The Trade Mission to Florida is the follow-up from this event where Government Officials, Economic Development Agencies, NGO’s, ICT and Life Science companies and Export Councils will visit five key cities in Florida from 30 September to 8 October.

It is envisioned that partnerships will be formed, and trade links established that will be a testament to the success of the AfrICANDO summit on Science, Technology and Research.

Florida is the “Internet Gateway” to Latin America and the Caribbean with multiple hubs capable of high-speed data transmission.

The state is currently ranked 4th in the US for high-tech employment.

Also, with the Scripps Research Institute opening a facility in Boca Raton, Palm Beach County, several major universities nationally ranked for their research expertise in this area, and technology parks and medical centers Florida is well placed to support technology transfer to Africa.

US President George W. Bush and Florida Governor Jeb Bush both sent congratulatory messages to the AfrICANDO Conference and its organisers.

August 2006
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