Dreams, Optimism, Wisdom


Erle Frayne Argonza

In the sub-Saharan region, so many exciting developments are going on that deserve our attention. Among these are gigantic projects that are funded by the billions of dollars.

Below is a news briefer about Kenya, Nigeria, and the entire region concerning both ongoing projects and assessment reports about problems that need to be addressed.

Happy viewing!

[14 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to SciDev database news.]


Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 19 June–3 July

3 July 2008 | EN

Kenyan and Nigerian researchers will bioengineer improved cassava


Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the 19 June–3 July 2008.

Kenya and Nigeria plan bioengineered cassava trials
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture will next year begin field trials in Kenya and Nigeria on long-lasting cassava roots fortified with vitamins, minerals and protein, bioengineered to resist damaging viruses and requiring less processing time. Kenya’s Agricultural Research Institute and Nigeria’s Root Crops Research Institute will provide support.

DRC benefits first from US$5 billion African hydropower project
Aluminium smelters in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will, in 2010, be the first to receive power from a US$5 billion hydroelectric project on the Congo river. The project, planned since 2003 and jointly owned by the energy ministries of Angola, Botswana, the DRC, Namibia and South Africa, should be complete by 2015.

Yaws disease remains a threat
The crippling and disfiguring yaws disease remains a threat in developing countries, including those in west and central Africa, despite almost being eradicated in the 1960s.
WHO specialist Kingsley Asiedu says[171kB], the disease needs to be considered a priority once again — especially since one injection is all a cure needs. More>> [138kB]

South African telescope bid receives boost
Africa’s chances of hosting the Square Kilometre Array — the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the world — has received a boost with South Africa’s approval of the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Bill. The bill gives the country’s science and technology ministry the power to protect astronomical research regions, including the proposed South African site for the array, from development.

Non-recommended drug use raising resistance fears in Mozambique
Researchers have expressed ‘concern’ that Mozambican authorities continue to treat malaria with a combination of sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) and artesunate drugs. All neighbouring countries have abandoned antimalarial drug combinations using SP due to drug resistance problems. Conditions are now ideal for artesunate drug resistance and may even endanger second-line drugs.
More>> [205kB]

Couple counselling can help cut HIV risk, African research reveals
Counselling for couples could cut the rate of HIV transmission between partners in long-term relationships by up to 60 per cent, researchers say. Based on the results of their study, conducted in Lusaka, Zambia, and Kigali in Rwanda, they say all African governments should urgently scale up HIV testing, condoms, circumcision and antiretroviral drugs for cohabiting couples.

Africa lagging on Clean Development Mechanisms
Only 25 of the 1,090 registered Clean Development Mechanism projects in developing countries are in Africa, with 11 in South Africa. Projects in the mechanism aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but companies in South Africa have complained that the amount of time to set up projects is double that stated in provided guidelines.

Namibia moves to boost hydropower
Namibia is negotiating with Angola to store water alongside the Kunene River during the rainy season to help boost its electricity capacity through hydropower. Namibia’s only hydroelectricity station, the Ruacana power plant, stops in the dry season when the river runs dry. Analyst Moses Duma says Namibia also has a good market for wind, solar and gas power.

South African satellite wait continues
South Africa is still waiting to launch its Sumbandila environmental monitoring satellite. A delegation from Russia’s civilian space agency Roskosmos is due to visit South Africa to discuss alternative options after the Russian government blocked the planned launch last year. Meanwhile, South Africa has held its first two public consultation sessions on a proposed space strategy.

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Compiled by Christina Scott. Additional reporting by Frederick Baffour Opoku, Onche Odeh and Sharon Davis.

If you would like to suggest a story for this news in brief, please contact the Africa News Editor Christina Scott ( 




Erle Frayne Argonza


Good morning!


South-south cooperation has been intensifying in the past years. The coverage of such cooperation has been from basic research to financing projects, and onwards to project implementation.


In Africa, industrial cooperation and research has been boosted anew with the efforts of Egypt to install an industrial center. This center will largely cater to African stakeholders.


The news item is contained below.


Happy reading!


[14 August, 2008, Quezon City, Manila. Thanks to SciDev database news.]



South–South industrial centre opens in Egypt

Wagdy Sawahel

3 July 2008 | EN | 中文

The centre will provide technical and industrial support, including training, to less advanced countries

SciDev.Net/Catherine Brahic

[CAIRO] Egypt has opened a US$10 million centre for transferring technology and promoting innovation-based industrial development among African countries.

The South–South Industrial Cooperation Centre (SICC) was opened this week (1 July) to coincide with the 11th African Union Summit held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, between 30 June and 1 July.

The African Union, the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Egypt’s Ministry of Trade and Industry are funding the Cairo-based centre, Hany Barakat, head of technological development sector at the ministry, told SciDev.Net.

SICC is part of a UNIDO scheme to establish South–South cooperation centres in countries that have highly developed technological or industrial capabilities to provide technical support to less advanced countries.

The first centre opened in India in January 2007. A similar centre is to be set up in China, with further centres in Brazil, Iran and South Africa also envisioned.

Barakat says the aim of the centre is to promote South–South cooperation in science, manufacturing, technology and industrial innovation as well as providing assistance to African countries in their efforts to strengthen their scientific, technological and innovative capacities.

He says the centre is a direct action of the African Technology and Innovation Initiative (ATII) that African heads of state approved at the January 2008 African Union Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The initiative will set up five African networks to develop skills and resources at all stages of the industrial manufacturing process, from product design through to certification of international standards and exports.

“ATII aims at changing Africa, which accounts for only two per cent of global manufactured products, from natural resource-based economies towards manufacturing-based economies,” says Barakat.

The new centre can be considered the first step towards the establishment of the African network of technology transfer and innovation centres that will serve the African continent, says Barakat. In the future, focal points or branches of SICC could be established in different African countries.

An Arab network for technology transfer and innovation promotion is also being set up, says Barakat. So far, seven countries — Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Tunisia — have joined. The network will help Arab companies improve quality and competitiveness by harnessing science and adopting new technologies, and provide professional training.



Erle Frayne D. Argonza

[Writ 04 May 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

Good afternoon! Food be with you! (Hmmm that’s to borrow from Christian’s ‘peace’ maxim…)

You may wonder how we stakeholders of development do our coordination here in the Philippines, and I’d say coordination is practically the same everywhere. It involves ‘partnering’, an unraveling of distrust and a sincere effort to cooperate and collaborate. Partnering eventually creates strong institutions, thus catalyzing development further.

I was just a 23-year old enterprise supervisor in the defunct Ministry of Human Settlements (MHS) in 1982, when news came out that development councils will be constituted at the regional level. It used to be part of partnering mechanisms at the regional level, with the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) serving as secretariat, till it floundered and slept in the late 1970s.

When the regional development council or RDC woke up again, circa 1982, the MHS was already making waves in the development arena. This agency was eventually mandated to revive the council, in collaboration with the NEDA and all provincial governors. I remember then that the charismatic and management-savvy Governor Faustino Dy of Isabela was elected 1st chair of the revived RDC, with Area Manager (regional director) Tito Osias of MHS serving as convenor.

Down the hierarchy of power and influence the provincial development councils or PDCs were also constituted. I had the luck then of representing the MHS to begin building the PDC core in Batanes, the same core being the members of the KKK Secretariat (KKK = Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran or National Livelihood Movement, a major state funding program for enterprise) then emerging. My provincial and deputy bosses, who was almost always out of the region (their families were in Manila), mandated me to be the lead convenor for the core building of both bodies.

It was a fruitful work to begin with, the task in Batanes. State and business representatives were invited to comprise the core, down the mayor’s level. Civil society was weak here then, there were no developmental NGOs to invite here then, so it was purely a state-market synergy we had there in Basco (capital town). Within just three (3) months of consultations, our coordination outputs were simply enormous, the targets could overwhelm a single agency if it were left alone to implement them. But with many partners to achieve the goals, including modernizing the pier and acquiring a ship dedicated for Batanes alone (the islands were practically isolated from the ‘mainland’ Luzon), development goals are optimistically achievable.

Acquiring the experience I needed for my next task, Cagayan, I then moved to add inputs to a PDC core plan that was already begun then before I occupied my Tuguegarao office (capital town). Because there was a provincial manager-designate, and my post was just recently upped to deputy provincial manager, my first tasks were to travel to different towns and subtly convince the mayors and line agency partners at that level about the need for development coordination at the provincial level. That ‘massaging’ had to be done, because mayors were reportedly luke warm about the idea of a PDC.

After three (3) months on the job, my provincial manager was sadly sacked from duty, and so I had to take over as Acting Provincial Manager. Then did I do the convenor tasks at its core, with Governor Cortez role-playing PDC chair. Mr. Bagasao, provincial head of the Ministry of Local Governments (MLG), was co-convenor. There was no NEDA office at the provincial level, so the MHS-MLG-Governor’s Office served as lead implementers of the council. I myself prepared the agenda for all succeeding meetings.

It was quite tough a work there, I recall. Cagayan was quite large a territory to navigate, state officials and business groups too many to manage, but we did make headway in forming the active core. State officials could hardly see each other eye to eye at local levels, but there they were in the council, forging inter-agency linkages as semblances of ‘committee work’ of a gigantic cooperative. Sadly, the mayors were absentee, and this almost piqued me at some point to the extent that, warlord-like, I would challenge those pretentiously all-knowing absent mayors to some war games to show them I was serious in the job.

But again, like the Batanes narrative, the Cagayan experience was largely a state-market synergy, with nary a developmental NGO to invite. What we did then was to invite peasant and fisherfolk groups, which were largely enterprise-group types, but that was the best remedy then for the absence of NGOs there. (Contrast this to today’s Cagayan where dozens of developmental NGOs are in operation.) We set the rules of engagement, built interagency teams, ironed out convergences among state agencies’ plans, got inputs from the chamber of commerce and dealers’ groups, and then conceptualized new projects. Among those new projects during my watch was the industrial estate in Sta. Ana (today’s CEZA).

It was an altogether fulfilling experience for me then as a budding technocrat. I loved every bit of the job. Walls among state officials were broken down, cooperation gelled, new bold and ambitious projects were identified, existing ones were fast-tracked (irrigation, electrification, public works, enterprise finance, food sector development). It was beautiful!

Sadly, I had to leave that work, as I needed to go back to my schooling: to the University of the Philippines where I longed to take up my masters degree in sociology. I simply monitored the ensuing institutionalization efforts for the councils…till later, I heard about the constitution of municipal and barangay (village) development councils. That’s partnering at work, and mind you, it surely works if you put your heart and mind into it. It brightens up the world a bit.