Source: Two Circles, March 7, 2012
New Delhi : India Friday flagged social entrepreneurship and innovation as key areas for collaboration with Africa and called for exploring a research and development fund for promoting science and technology (S&T) on both sides. Minister for S&T and Earth Sciences Vilasrao Deshmukh told the concluding session of a two-day India-Africa S&T Ministers Conference here that his ministry will extend all support to make the African continent emerge as a strong knowledge economy. "Social entrepreneurship and innovation are key areas for collaboration. Let us work together," Deshmukh said. "Stage is set for partnership between countries in Africa and India in S&T sector. My ministry will extend all support in making our sister continent becoming stronger knowledge economy. I extend a strong strategic partnership," he said. Noting that the two-day event was "fruitful and productive," the minister said the meeting could discuss and arrive at a road map for future cooperation between India and Africa. "The challenges faced by nations of Africa is similar to ours. Some of our solutions may also be similar," he said.
Flagging capacity building as an important area of cooperation, Deshmukhh called upon both India and Africa to embark on programmes to build capacities in important areas like agriculture, remote sensing and technologies for decision support system, land and water management, renewable energy, herbal medicine and traditional knowledge.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for S&T Ashwani Kumar said India remains committed to serve as a strategic partner for Africa's needs in training and capacity building for scientific and technological sectors.
"It has been the Indian government's unshaken resolve to ensure the upward mobility, empowerment and freedom of the African people," he said.
Calling for developing technology models for intellectual property rights, sharing and protection of knowledge, Kumar said: "Establishment of joint India-Africa R&D Innovation Fund for mutual financing of priority areas of research should be explored to achieve tangible and timely outcomes."
Egypt's Minister of Scientific Research Nadia Eskander Zakhary, in her address, said India and Africa should collaborate on food security and health care technologies, apart from using information and communication technologies (ICT) for ensuring prosperity of the people of Africa.
At the end of the two-day event, India and Africa S&T ministers adopted a declaration that outlined the areas they would like to cooperate in the immediate future.
The declaration stressed that the scientific cooperation should address common societal needs in emerging areas such as affordable health care, water technology, climate change, agricultural science including food processing technologies, renewable energy and ICT.
Capacity building, institution development and research in common priority areas were the focus of the five-page declaration.