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India to bolster science ties with Africa

Posted on behalf of K. S. Jayaraman

India’s science collaboration with the 54-nation African Union (AU) began modestly in 2010, with the award of C.V. Raman fellowships to African researchers. Now the partnership is set to grow, with a focus on capacity building and manpower development.

At the first joint conference of science ministers from India and the AU in New Delhi this week, India announced that it will help the AU build new scientific institutions and develop human resources through exchange of scientists, joint research projects, ‘twinning’ between Indian and African institutions and internships for African researchers in Indian labs.

India also offered assistance to specific African institutions, starting with the Pasteur Institute in Tunis, the School of Science and Technology of Masuku, Gabon, and the Institute of Mathematics and Physical Sciences in Benin. And a new Africa-India Joint Science & Technology Committee will be set up to foster technology transfer between the partners.

India’s science initiatives in Africa will be funded from money committed last year by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Africa-India Forum Summit held in Addis Ababa. That included US$5 billion in credit, as well as $700 million for establishing new institutions and training programmes.

India has already invested over $125 million in a Pan-African e-network project, which links leading universities and hospitals in India with their counterparts in Africa by satellite. Following its success, India has proposed to establish an India-Africa Virtual University.

“India is extensively engaged with Africa,” says Jean-Pierre Ezin, AU commissioner for human resources, science and technology, who attended the conference. “This conference is part of the ongoing cooperation between Africa and India, and it opens a unique opportunity for us to strengthen our ties on science and technology.”

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