In The Field

AU Summit: Deal or No Deal

Two years of painstaking preparations are over. The world’s gaze has descended on Addis Ababa to see whether Africa’s leaders will deliver on their promises to get real about science and technology. Can Addis live upto expectations? We will know in the next two days.

In the final weeks and months before this meeting, the signs were decidedly mixed. There was little consensus for example on a new Africa-wide research fund; nor on an idea to set up a council of presidents to keep an eye on political commitments on science.

A new 20-year strategy for biotechnology may get the green-light. If this happens, it will signal a much-needed truce in Africa’s very own science-wars – the damaging conflict between proponents and critics of GM technology in agriculture that has hindered everything from education, research, regulation and commercialization.

No summit of heads of state would be complete without a bit of glamour and entertainment – and this summit seems to have it in spades. Yesterday saw the launch of the International Year of African Football in which the summit was temporarily converted into a stadium. Delegates were treated to a match between Ethiopia and South Africa (under-15s).

Climate change is also on the agenda and the UK government’s latest scientific export: Nicholas Stern has been given star billing. Later today he will introduce his report on the economics of climate change. Stern will be preceded by the AU’s Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Mme Rosebud Kurwijila.


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