BrightWorld

Dreams, Optimism, Wisdom

ADDRESSING TEHCNO-INNOVATIONS – BUSINESS GAP IN CHINA October 18, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Gracious day to everyone!

From China comes a news item highlighting the gap between technology innovations and the business community. The observation is that the gap is a yawning one. This gap has been observed among other Asians that proceeded with the industrialization development track couples of decades back.

The new is contained below.

[Writ 07 October 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to SciDev database news.]

Chinese innovation ‘too isolated’

Jia Hepeng

23 September 2008 | EN | 中文

Flickr/Pere Tubert Juhe

[ZHENGZHOU AND BEIJING] For China to become a world leader in innovation, it should address regional differences and promote corporate input, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The report, released this month (11 September), acknowledges that with spending on research and development (R&D) matching that of Germany, China is already a global player in science and technology.

But the country lags in innovation capability and performance compared to OECD countries with a similar level of R&D investment, although China ranked second in global publications levels in 2006.

According to the report, China’s innovation system is not fully developed and inadequately integrated. It describes the system as an “archipelago”, a large number of “innovative islands” with insufficient links between them.

Current regional patterns of R&D and innovation create too great a physical separation between knowledge producers and potential users, the authors say.

In addition, although foreign investment in China has increasingly contributed to innovation, the domestic business sector has been slow to make productive use of accumulated R&D investment, human resources for science and technology, and related infrastructure, the report indicates.

The Chinese government is looking to address this. For example, a recent study found that of 22 Chinese biotechnology firms investigated, all had received government funding (see Regulations ‘hinder’ China biotech investment).

But besides funding companies directly, “it is important for China to improve the framework conditions for innovation, which will contribute to building an innovation culture and provide the conditions and incentives for firms to shift their attention to innovation,” Gang Zhang of the OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry and one of the report’s authors, told SciDev.Net.

And Feng Jun, president of Beijing Huaqi Information Digital Technology, a leading Chinese technology company, says the government has distributed its funding too evenly among companies, instead of focusing on a few to gain key breakthroughs.

Link to the executive summary of OECD report 

 

S & T POLICY AND INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: IRAQ UPDATE October 12, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Good morning from Manila!

It seems the excitement in Iraq’s S&T is moving to higher pitches, despite the noise and flames of the ensuing war there. The policy environment is getting to be more definitive, and a new state institution is being installed to address S&T research and development needs of the country.

See the exciting news below.

[Writ 06 October 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to SciDev database news.]

 

New authority and law to push Iraqi research

Wagdy Sawahel

26 September 2008 | EN | 中文

Flickr/rxwarren

Iraq is to establish a scientific research authority (SRA) to promote science and technology research and improve science policy, and will consider a new law offering scientists significant financial benefits.

The SRA was announced by Abd Dhiab al-Ajili, the Iraqi minister for higher education and scientific research last week (15 September).

It will function independently from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MHESR) and have a separate, as yet undisclosed, budget. Its exact start date has yet to be decided.

The authority will oversee all of the science and technology centres associated with universities and have the capacity to fund research directly. It will also prepare science policy reports reviewing subjects including best practice for funding research, measuring the quality of scientific research, and methods for knowledge dissemination.

The SRA will suggest educational programmes and provide analysis for the MHESR on Iraq’s needs to build its scientific and technological capacity. It will also provide advice to the MHESR and university science centres on topics such as ethics, socioeconomic impact, health and environmental concerns and intellectual property rights.

The Iraqi government is also set to consider a new law aiming to persuade scientists, innovators and engineers abroad to return to the country.

Samir Ibrahim Abbas, deputy director-general at the Iraq Ministry of Science and Technology and a member of the ministerial committee preparing the law, says a draft will be ready within six weeks and submitted to the government.

The proposed law also offers incentives to top scientists and innovators working in Iraq.

These include increased salaries — currently on average less than US$1,000 a month — of 300–350 per cent making it equivalent to the Iraqi deputy ministerial salary level. Other benefits include exemption from the mandatory retirement age of 63 years and preferential treatment and reduced prices when buying land for housing.

Abbas says the law will reward different levels of scientists and innovators depending on their scientific achievements.

Scientists would be expected to apply for the benefits, overseen by a central body comprising representatives from scientific committees in different scientific and technological fields who would be responsible for the evaluation and assessment of candidates. 

 

CHILE’S RENEWABLE ENERGY POTENTIALS September 19, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Hola compadrinos y compadrinos del pais Chile! Que tal!

I do honestly admire the Chileans for their great drive to propel their country to economic prosperity. And I have no better wish than to see the Chileans let go of that Dark Age past of tyrannical rule by the barracks folks. Chileans might profit the better if they move on in their creative pursuits, undistracted by the impurities of barracks mindsets that they have acquired from their tormentors.

Chileans should in fact thank their tormentors, as the tempest they all experienced, which we Filipinos did pass through as well, have tempered them all for greater challenges, strengthened their collective wills-to-prosperity, and ascend the ladder of national success. Let go of that past, Chilean fellows, please.

Here is a good news from Chileans about the renewable energy potentials of the country.

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

 

 

Chile: alto potencial de uso de energías renovables

Paula Leighton

15 agosto 2008 | ES

[SANTIAGO] Las energías renovables no convencionales (ERNC) y el uso eficiente de la energía eléctrica podrían satisfacer hasta el 40 por ciento de los requerimientos energéticos de Chile en 2025.

Así lo demuestra un estudio de las universidades de Chile y Federico Santa María, difundido el pasado 8 de agosto, que estimó el potencial aporte de energías como la eólica, hidráulica, biomasa, geotérmica y solar en el país.

La cifra supera largamente las metas impuestas por la Ley de Energía aprobada en marzo pasado.

Según esta ley, entre 2010 y 2014 las empresas generadoras y distribuidoras deberán proporcionar cinco por ciento de la energía que comercializan a partir de fuentes renovables y llegar al diez por ciento en 2024.

En 2025 la demanda del Sistema Interconectado Central (SIC) alcanzará a 105.560 GWh. Para ese año, las ERNC y el uso eficiente de la energía eléctrica podrían contribuir con cerca de 40.000 GWh, estima el informe.  

“Esto significa un mejoramiento de la calidad del servicio, disminución de la dependencia energética, aumento de la competitividad y productividad de las empresas y reducción de los impactos ambientales locales”, dicen los investigadores.

Así, el uso de ERNC reduciría la emisión de CO2 en 16 millones de toneladas por año, estiman los autores.

Según dijo a SciDev.Net Sara Larraín, directora de la ONG Chile Sustentable, incluso considerando que el potencial económicamente factible de las ERNC es de alrededor de 17 a 28 por ciento de los requerimientos para 2025, “el porcentaje triplica la meta obligatoria fijada por el gobierno en la ley de energías renovables”.

Por eso, agrega, “la legislación es el único instrumento que tiene el Estado para obligar a las empresas a desarrollar esta opción, que es a largo plazo más barata”.

Para impulsar el potencial de las ERNC, el estudio propone crear una Agencia Nacional de Energías Renovables autónoma.

 

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC UPS ICT USE

Erle Frayne Argonza

If there is anything I wish from the Dominican Republic, it is that the leaders of this esteemed nation will tell the world powers and all other countries to “shut up you bellicose lunatics and take down your armies!” Should the DomRepublicans say that, I will re-echo the message here in ASEAN and say “shut up you blabbermouth warmongers and close down your armies!”

That’s a mere wish thing though. More realistically, a news from our esteemed DomRepublican friends pronounced the increasing usage of ICT in their home country. Latin Americans better pay attention to this news, such as Mexico which seems bent on fattening its oligarchs’ purses from non-sensical if not criminal rent-seeking engagements at the expense of high-tech progress.

The great news is contained below.

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

 

Crece uso de las TIC en República Dominicana

Fuente: 7 Días

13 agosto 2008 | ES

73,4% de los dominicanos tiene celular

El 67,1 por ciento de los hogares dominicanos tiene acceso al teléfono celular; el 24,5 por ciento al teléfono fijo y el 5,1 por ciento a Internet.

Además, el 34,3 por ciento de las personas mayores de 12 años usa la computadora y el 25,4 por ciento Internet. En este mismo rango de edad, el 73,4 por ciento de los dominicanos tiene acceso al teléfono celular.

Así lo revelan datos preliminares de la Encuesta Nacional de Hogares de Propósitos Múltiples (ENHOGAR), en su versión de 2007, difundidos el pasado 7 de agosto, según consigna el diario 7 Días.

De acuerdo con el diario, para el director de la Oficina Nacional de Estadísticas, Pablo Tactuk, estos datos muestran que los esfuerzos por insertar al país en la sociedad de la información han dado sus frutos.

Sin embargo, agrega 7 Días, al referirse a la penetración de las tecnologías de la información y la comunicación (TIC) en el país, Tactuk “reconoció que existen diferencias ‘notables’ atendiendo a las características socioeconómicas, geográficas y de escolaridad en el acceso a estas tecnologías por lo que llamó a redoblar los esfuerzos para incluir a los sectores que están rezagados”.

Artículo completo en 7 Días

 

YOUTH NOVEL PARK FOR INNOVATIVE FUTURE

Erle Frayne Argonza

Who says that the youth can’t share much about hard creative products aside from their classroom outputs that are largely novitiate or apprentice level? So many great works of genius have already gone out of universities, straight from the mental banks of adolescents and youthful instructors.

From Latin America comes a welcome news about a ‘creativity park’ whose purpose is to facilitate the build up capabilities for future innovativeness.

See the news item below. Venceremos!

[28 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

Futuros innovadores se forman en original campamento

Lisbeth Fog

9 agosto 2008 | ES

Elvis Perea y otros estudiantes en el Parque de la Creatividad

Carlos Andrés Sánchez, cortesía Parque de la Creatividad

[BUCARAMANGA] Desde el 25 de julio, 30 jóvenes se encuentran reunidos en la capital santandereana, al noreste de Colombia, en una experiencia a la que no fue fácil llegar: el Parque de la Creatividad.

“El Parque de la Creatividad es un foro que congrega a jóvenes de últimos años de colegio y algunos de primeros años de universidad, donde a través de su interacción con mentores científicos inventores se promueve la creatividad”, explica el microbiólogo colombiano Raúl Cuero, creador de la iniciativa, actualmente investigador de la Universidad de Texas Prairie View A&M, en Estados Unidos.

Es la segunda vez que sucede en el país. Los jóvenes seleccionados se reúnen en una ciudad colombiana durante casi tres semanas, a crear.

En Bucaramanga hay jóvenes de distintas ciudades colombianas y dos estadounidenses. Hombres y mujeres, negros, mestizos y blancos, de colegios privados, escuelas públicas y universidades.

La filosofía del Parque, dice Cuero, es que de la diversidad sale la creatividad.

“Tuvimos que escribir un ensayo de 800 palabras en el que buscáramos una solución creativa a un problema”, cuenta Elvis Perea, un joven recién graduado de bachiller.

Los seleccionados participarán hasta el 10 de agosto en vivencias que van desde entrenamientos de laboratorio para descubrir el ADN o entender los procesos que desencadena la clorofila, pasando por actividades artísticas, entrenamiento en mercadeo y manejos administrativos.

Se trata de formar jóvenes innovadores, que no solamente realicen investigación, sino que sepan plasmarla en un producto o un proceso eventualmente comercializable en el futuro.

Por eso, también visitan industrias, escuchan a presidentes de empresas, oyen música, una sicóloga los pone a pensar. El programa no está escrito; no saben qué pasará en la siguiente hora.

En mensaje enviado el primer día del campamento, el presidente de Colombia Álvaro Uribe dijo confiar en que “este campamento internacional de invenciones “Raúl Cuero” dará a nuestros muchachos numerosas oportunidades para que despierten su creatividad en beneficio de la ciencia, de cara a lograr su activa participación en nuestras regiones”.

Los Parques de la Creatividad tienen el apoyo de universidades como Harvard, MIT, California en Berkeley y en San Francisco y la de Texas. En Colombia apoyan empresas como Alianza Team y Casa Luker.

 

INDONESIA SHOWCASES E-LEARNING FOR SMEs, YOUTH September 15, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

From our esteem neighbor Indonesia comes a very heartwarming news about enabling its e-learning programs for (a) the small & medium enterprises and (b) youth. E-learning is not new to Indonesia nor to any of the 10-member states of ASEAN, though there are admittedly certain sectors where the technology divide is still a reality.

Taiwan’s stakeholders entered the scene as co-partners with the Indonesian stakeholders to fast-track the e-learning services and bridge the digital divide in the sectors concerned.

Below is the news caption about the e-learning project.

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

 

Indonesia profits from Taiwan e-learning scheme

Ella Syafputri

12 August 2008 | EN

Indonesian students are among those benefiting from the scheme

Flickr/kinjengnet

[JAKARTA] Indonesian students, businesses and government officials are benefiting from a Taiwanese scheme to bridge the digital divide in developing countries.

Some 3,500 people and businesses have been trained in six e-learning centres sponsored by the Taiwan government in three Indonesian cities: Bandung, Jakarta and Yogyakarta.

The programme of transferable ICT skills has proven to be useful for participants, says Lester Leu, deputy director at the economic division of the Taiwan Economy and Trade Office (TETO).

“After taking part in e-learning programmes, some students and small and medium enterprises [SMEs] start to access technology and get better life opportunities. Many students and SMEs immediately set up e-commerce both for domestic and international markets,” Lester told SciDev.Net.

Lester said Taiwan started establishing the centres in 2006 and the work was finished by May 2008.

“The centres aim to bridge the digital divide as well as enhance ICT capabilities in Indonesia. Some specialisations occur in e-learning centres, such as increasing access for women, SMEs or children,” he says.

Lester says the programme has been particularly beneficial for participants from poorer communities, and the centres train high school teachers so they can pass on the skills to a larger number of people.

“Every year, we invite ICT experts from Indonesia to Taiwan to exchange experience and competencies. There is an annual local competition in e-commerce utilisation and the winners are invited to Taiwan as well,” he adds.

By the end of this year, Taiwan expects to have opened 41 e-learning centres in seven developing countries — Chile, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam — under a programme approved by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

The Taiwan government proposed the APEC Digital Opportunity Center (ADOC) initiative during the 2003 APEC leadership summit in Thailand, with the goal of using Taiwan’s advanced ICT experience to assist other APEC member states in upgrading their technology capacities.

Lester hopes there will be a second phase of the initiative, with centres built in more Indonesian cities. It is due to be discussed in ADOC Week 2008, set for 29 September–4 October in Taipei.

 

FROM BEIJING: CLIMATE CHANGE MODELS NEED REVISION September 10, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

 

So many of our scientific models of ecological reality need gross revisions. I am aware for instance that the model for the ‘water cycle’ is badly flawed, yet the scientific community has not done much to revise it.

 

Here is another facet of reality—climate change—where the existing models are found to be flawed. From East Asian scientists, notably Beijing, come the observation that the existing models ‘ignore brown carbon’. It need not belabored that the models must be revised.

 

The news about the observations regarding the model is contained below. What is gladdening is that scientists were able to uncover the flaw, which will ensure revision of the model and the practical technologies coming out from the labs later.

 

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

 

 

Current climate models ‘ignoring brown carbon’

Sun Xiaohua and Jia Hepeng

15 August 2008 | EN | 中文

Smog over Bangkok, Thailand

Flickr/gullevek

[BEIJING] Scientists have found that air pollution from East Asia contains an abundance of ‘brown carbon’ particles and say that atmospheric models need updating to incorporate their effect.

Current climate models take into account two types of aerosol carbon — organic carbon and black carbon — that arise from the burning of fossil fuels or biomass.

Black carbon strongly warms the atmosphere by absorbing light, while organic carbon absorbs light at a negligible level and has no warming effect.

It has already been claimed black carbon plays a much larger role in global warming than estimates made by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (see Black carbon climate danger ‘underestimated’).

But this approximation is too simple, according to Peter Crozier, an associate professor at Arizona State University (ASU) in the United States, whose team published their research in Science last week (8 August).

According to the authors, the method that is currently used to measure the warming effect of different types of particle doesn’t take into account the wide variations that can occur between types of carbon from different sources.

They instead used a technique based on a specialised type of electron microscope to directly determine the optical properties of individual carbon particles, and found that samples taken from above the Yellow Sea, east of China, have an abundance of brown carbon particles.  

“Brown carbon has light absorbing properties that lie between strongly absorbing black carbon and materials that only scatter light and do not absorb,” co-author James Anderson, a research scientist at ASU’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, told SciDev.Net.

He adds that brown carbon both cools the Earth’s surface and warms the atmosphere, resulting in a complex role in global warming, hence the necessity to incorporate it into climate models.

Hu Guoquan, a senior scientist at the Beijing-based National Climate Centre, welcomes the study, saying it highlights the uncertainties of IPCC models.

“But more studies on the chemical structure and size of brown carbon particles must be done,” he told SciDev.Net.

In addition, Hu says, as many carbon aerosols pollutants are emitted by China or India — which have massive combustion of fossil fuels and biomass — judging their accurate warming or cooling effect must be done cautiously and avoid claims without sufficient scientific evidence, as this will contribute to determining the nations’ responsibilities in global warming.

Link to abstract in Science 

 

CHILE BIOFUELS THE DAY September 4, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

 

Amigos y amigas, Buenos dias again!

 

Chile has boosted its own path to renewable energy by recently priming up its research & development efforts in biofuels. This is a long shot in the arm for Chile which had moved on to an ‘emerging market’ status over the last two (2) decades.

 

Below is the brightening news about Chile’s biocombustible development.

 

Happy reading! Venceremos!

 

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

 

 

 

Chile enfatiza biocombustibles de tecnología avanzada

María Elena Hurtado

3 julio 2008 | ES

Los bosques sureños son materia prima ideal para producir combustibles líquidos

Instituto Forestal de Chile

[SANTIAGO DE CHILE] La asignación, en los próximos días, de hasta 6 millones de dólares a consorcios público-privados para la investigación, desarrollo y comercialización de biocombustibles de tecnología avanzada, o de segunda generación, confirma el anuncio sobre la prioridad que Chile dará a este tipo de biocombustibles que la presidenta Michelle Bachelet hiciera el 21 de mayo durante la exposición anual al Parlamento .

Los biocombustibles de segunda generación – que se obtienen de materias lignocelulósicas como los rastrojos o residuos de trigo y deschos de la silvicultura y madera – tienen la ventaja de no competir con los alimentos y aprovechar residuos. El proceso de conversión en bioetanol es más largo y complicado que el del bioetanol tradicional y costaría más que los demás biocombustibles

InnovaChile, dependiente del Ministerio de Economía, financiará hasta en un 60%, es decir hasta US$6.3 millones, a consorcios que propongan planes de investigación, desarrollo y comercialización de biocombustibles a partir de material lignocelulósico.

Los consorcios seleccionados deberán constituirse este año y obtener resultados en cinco años como máximo, aunque se espera que en tres años ya puedan entrar al mercado. Dos consorcios formados por empresas forestales y universidades – Bioenercel y ForEnergy – ya están desarrollando proyectos de estas características en el país.

“Aunque la superficie forestal chilena podría abastecer una industria de combustibles de segunda generación…lo más conveniente para el país es continuar plantando los abundantes terrenos forestales todavía disponibles pero con nuevas especies especialmente seleccionadas para uso energético, y de ese modo, evitar una competencia entre los dos tipos de uso de material prima,” comentó a SciDev.Net el Subsecretario de Agricultura, Reinaldo Ruiz.

Hasta fines del 2007 Chile -junto con Ecuador y Venezuela- eran los únicos países sudamericanos que no tenían leyes que promovieran los biocombustibles (Venezuela por ser productor de petróleo).

Pero Chile se ha estado poniendo rápidamente al día. En marzo de este año el Congreso aprobó una ley sobre energías renovables no convencionales que incluye los biocombustibles. En mayo se autorizó la mezcla de bioetanol con gasolina en 2 por ciento y 5 por ciento del volumen resultante de la mezcla. También se eximió a los biocombustibles del impuesto a la gasolina y el diesel, y las empresas estatales de cobre y petróleo – CODELCO y ENAP – empezarán a usar biodiesel en sus maquinarias para evaluarlo.

Finalmente, el 30 de junio se creó la Comisión Asesora Interministerial en Materia de Biocombustibles que asesorará a todos los organismos públicos involucrados en esta materia, fijará directrices, propondrá orientaciones estratégicas y prestará apoyo para implementar políticas.

 

VENEZUELA’S PETROL FIRM SUPPORTS SCIENCE RESEARCH September 3, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

It seems that under the leadership of the nationalists, Venezuela has been surging ahead in S&T. This situation just wasn’t there during the era of oligarchic rule, to the chagrin of the pro-West elites who wish to enchain the Venezuelans to ignorance and poverty.

From the world of oil companies comes a welcome news about Petrol’s magnanimous efforts to boost science research and development, particularly in the area of health research.

The news item is contained below.

Happy viewing!

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

Venezuela: petroleras aportan US$ 1,7 millón a ciencia

Marielba Núñez

3 julio 2008 | ES

La Unidad de Tecnología Nuclear del IVIC recibió los aportes de la empresa Shell

Cortesía IVIC

[CARACAS] Los consorcios energéticos Shell y Total Oil de Venezuela firmaron el 20 y el 25 de junio, respectivamente, convenios de cooperación con el Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (IVIC) para el financiamiento de fondos bibliográficos y proyectos de formación y dotación de equipos en el área de física médica y tecnología nuclear. Por medio de estos acuerdos, el IVIC recibirá el equivalente a US$1.746.000.

La compañía Shell otorgó a la institución más de US$1,5 millón para instalar a través del Plan Nacional de Oncología, equipos de radioterapia para el tratamiento de cáncer y apoyar la formación de postgrado en el área de protección radiológica, radiodiagnóstico, radioterapia y medicina nuclear.

Por su parte, la compañía Total Oil confirió al IVIC más de US$214 mil para apoyar el financiamiento de suscripciones a 103 publicaciones científicas internacionales.

Estas publicaciones son administradas por la Biblioteca Marcel Roche, que funciona en el IVIC, y pueden ser consultadas de forma gratuita por estudiantes e investigadores. El centro fue declarado por la Unesco biblioteca regional para América Latina y el Caribe.

Los acuerdos de cooperación se firmaron en el marco de la Ley Orgánica de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación, que obliga a las empresas en Venezuela a otorgar un porcentaje que va entre 0,5 por ciento y 2 por ciento de sus ingresos brutos a proyectos de desarrollo científico.

Edwin Rodríguez, jefe de cooperación técnica del IVIC, declaró a SciDev.Net que estos convenios muestran que la ley ha servido “para establecer alianzas estratégicas entre el sector productivo y el sector científico”.

 

SAHARAN AFRICA’S AMBITIOUS S & T DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS: SOME UPDATES September 2, 2008

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

CGIAR

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.
More>>

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.
More>>

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.
More>>

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.
More>>*

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.
More>>

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.
More>>

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.
More>>

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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 (christina.scott@scidev.net). 

 

 

ARGENTINA’S LOCAL LEGISLATION FOR SCIENCE August 25, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Good morning form Manila!

Hello Mercosur! Here comes another great country of yours that has been leading in physical economy-led growth, the Argentine republic. A recent governance innovation in Argentina was the bringing of legislation on science down to the provincial level. The news caption below reports on the encouraging development.

Happy reading!

[04 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

Aprueban primera ley provincial de ciencia en Argentina

Laura García

21 junio 2008 | ES

Chaco: La ley promoverá la biotecnología en la región

Wikipedia / Pertile

En la Argentina se aprobó la primera ley de ciencia, tecnología e innovación de carácter provincial. Algunos de sus objetivos son promover la aplicación del conocimiento para contribuir al desarrollo regional y despertar el interés por la investigación científica en los jóvenes.

La ley Nº 6.135 de la provincia de Chaco, ubicada en el nordeste del país, fue publicada en el boletín oficial provincial el 9 de junio y presentada en una reunión oficial el 13 del mismo mes. Participaron representantes del gobierno de Chaco y del Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva del país.

La ley establece que la Subsecretaría de Ciencia y Tecnología de Chaco dispondrá de un presupuesto anual no inferior al 0,8 por ciento del presupuesto total anual de la provincia. Además, contará con el 3,5 por ciento del Fondo para la Promoción y Fomento de la Innovación.

“Es muy importante que una provincia establezca un marco legal para la ciencia y la tecnología, porque significa que esas actividades han sido jerarquizadas”, dijo a SciDev.Net el secretario general del Consejo Federal de Ciencia y Tecnología, Hugo De Vido.

Entre otras acciones, la ley establece la creación de un consejo consultivo integrado por representantes de diferentes instituciones públicas y privadas del sector. Tendrá bajo su responsabilidad ayudar a elaborar un plan cuatrienal de actividades.

Durante la presentación de la ley, se firmó también un convenio marco de cooperación para la creación de un Polo Biotecnológico, Agropecuario y Forestal en la ciudad de Resistencia, a concretarse en el marco de la nueva ley.

El secretario general de ciencia y técnica de la Universidad Nacional del Nordeste, Angel Fusco, dijo a SciDev.Net que esta ley es una herramienta muy útil para establecer líneas estratégicas de desarrollo científico-tecnológico.

“Desde la universidad, aportaremos propuestas de trabajo conjunto y la experiencia de nuestros recursos humanos en la ejecución de proyectos de investigación y desarrollo”, informó Fusco.

Enlaces relacionados:

Ley Nº 6.135 publicada en el boletín oficial de la provincia de Chaco, Argentina 

 

SCIENTISTS’ RETIREMENT AGE RAISED: ZAMBIA’S EXAMPLE August 4, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Human resources are indubitably the greatest source for wealth-production and development. Necessarily, they are the greatest source for solving chronic R&D problems in the area of science and technology.

One remedy for chronic lack of scientists and researchers is the raising of retirement age. Zambia had just released officially the policy for age-raising, precisely to address the problem mentioned above.

Enjoy your read.

[25 July 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to the SciDev database news.]

Zambia considers raising scientists’ retirement age

Talent Ngandwe

4 June 2008 | EN

USDA/Scott Bauer

Zambia is considering excluding scientists from its current mandatory public sector retirement age of 55, in order to address its chronic skills shortage.

The country’s science and technology policy review, which started in 2007 and should finish before end of this year, will see enforced retirement of scientists in the public sector raised to more than 70 years of age, says science minister Peter Daka, according to a report in The Standard newspaper last month (May 7).

Emmanuel Hachipuka, deputy chairman of the public accounts committee and parliamentary opposition member, supports the reform, saying “it takes so many years for scientists to mature and get experience”.

But William Mumbi, director of science and technology at the Ministry of Science, says lifting the retirement age will not address the shortage of scientists, because the problem starts far earlier.

“The policy should instead make it mandatory for pupils to start science and maths lessons at kindergarten level”, says Mumbi.

Hachipuka says that a key reason for the shortage of scientists is that Zambian public sector scientists are poorly paid, receiving about US$300 a month.

Another important issue, he says, is that, in the last five years, the Ministry of Finance has allocated less than one per cent of the national budget to science — leading to poor research and equipment funds.

Peter Lawrence, a researcher at the Department of Zoology at Cambridge University, United Kingdom, writes in the current issue of Nature that compulsory retirement, as practiced in Europe and Japan, is discriminatory. He notes that Australia, Canada and the United States have done away with this practice.

“People should be valued for everything they contribute, not just the meeting of some measure”, Lawrence told SciDev.Net.

The policy review is also apparently examining the lack of cooperation between public research institutions like the University of Zambia and the National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research, and private organisations such as the Zambia Seed Company.

The office of the permanent secretary at the ministry repeatedly refused to say who was heading the review and declined to supply either the existing policy or the draft proposals. Mumbi said this was because the permanent secretary and the minister were out of the office.

Link to retirement policy article in Nature

 

FINANCING AFRICA’S SUPERCABLE August 2, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Building cable systems of a trans-continental extent is surely a tall order for the countries of Africa. While certain opportunities are there to proceed with the project, certain ‘barriers to entry’ are also present such as geological constraints, wars and disruptive human activities, and lack of financing.

Finally, as far as the financing is concerned, at least two (2) of the constraints will finally be addressed: circumventing geological-natural constraints, and solving financial limitations. As per latest update, the aggregates of finances are now being organized to address the constraints.

Enjoy your read.

[25 July 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

 

Finances ‘almost there’ for west African super-cable

Source: Engineering News

3 June 2008 | EN

The new cable should cut prices for broadband access

SciDev.Net/Tonks

The financial mechanisms for a new ‘super-cable’ — likely to be the world’s longest undersea cable — are almost in place.

The African West Coast Cable project — costing US$510 million — is headed up by South Africa’s Broadband Infraco, and will run from South Africa to the United Kingdom, with branching connections to at least ten countries along Africa’s west coast.

The launch is scheduled for sometime in the first half of 2010. The capacity of the cable will be brought on in stages, as the demand for broadband Internet infrastructure increases. At the time of launch, around 320 gigabytes a second will be available, growing to 3,840 gigabytes a second at peak performance.

This is much larger than the existing SAT-3/West Coast Submarine Cable System which currently connects South Africa to Europe at 120 gigabytes per second.

A key feature of the project is that the cable will be set-up on an open-access basis, allowing for a number of shareholders on the same system. “The idea is to foster an environment where all participants operate as though they had built and own the cable.”

Dave Smith, Infraco CEO, says such a basis “is necessary to fundamentally alter the way infrastructure is operated and priced in Africa”.

Link to article in Engineering News 

 

POST-PINOCHET CHILE MARCHES ON IN S & T FUNDING July 30, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Let us continue our reflections about wonderful news that brighten up our day.

Going back to Chile, as it continues to celebrate the air of freedom beyond the Dark Age of the Pinochet regime, we have another news item concerning the boosting of S&T funding in the said emerging market.

Chile is proving itself as a model of development that is worth watching. See what’s going on in this exemplar country through its S&T prioritization as indicated by funds boosting.

Happy reading!

[23 July 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to the SciDev database news.]

 

Chile crea un fondo para becas en ciencia y tecnología

Paula Leighton

25 may 2008 | ES

La presidenta Michelle Bachelet durante su cuenta anual al país

Presidencia de la República de Chile

[SANTIAGO] Aumento en las becas para estudios de posgrado, fondos para equipamiento científico e incentivos para atraer a investigadores extranjeros son algunos de los anuncios que hizo la presidenta de Chile, Michelle Bachelet, en su cuenta pública anual (21 de mayo).

La mandataria destacó que su gobierno creará un fondo con US$6 mil millones para financiar un ambicioso programa de becas de posgrado y de formación en oficios tecnológicos de alta especialización, tanto en Chile como en el extranjero.

Dicho fondo permitirá que las mil becas de formación en universidades extranjeras destinadas para 2008 aumenten a 2.500 en 2009 y a 6.500 en 2012, anunció Bachelet.

Además, el próximo año 150 técnicos que se desempeñen en áreas prioritarias para el país accederán por primera vez a becas de perfeccionamiento en el extranjero, las que en 2010 aumentarán a 2.000.

Bachelet dijo que en 2009 también aumentarán las becas para maestrías y doctorados que se dictan en Chile y se entregarán 35 mil becas para estudios técnicos superiores. 

Otro anuncio fue un programa para atraer en dos años a al menos 100 científicos extranjeros, los que se desempeñarán en universidades regionales “en áreas donde aún no contamos con suficientes expertos nacionales”, señaló.

“Todos estos anuncios que contribuyen a que en Chile haya personas con mayor formación son muy bienvenidos, porque le dan valor agregado al país. Al mismo tiempo, es muy positivo que científicos extranjeros vengan y contribuyan a formar estudiantes y nuevos investigadores”, dijo a SciDev.Net Servet Martínez, presidente de la Academia Chilena de Ciencias.    

Para fortalecer los centros de investigación científica, Bachelet anunció también que  “durante los próximos dos años estableceremos un programa de equipamiento científico al que destinaremos US$30 millones”.

Finalmente, la mandataria se comprometió a entregar en 2009 treinta mil computadores de uso personal a escolares pobres académicamente destacados, implementar laboratorios móviles de computación para niños de educación primaria y apoyar la conectividad digital en 35 comunas del país.

Texto completo del mensaje presidencial de Michelle Bachelet

 

NANOTECHNOLOGY AND AGRICULTURE (FROM INDIA) July 24, 2008

NANOTECHNOLOGY AND AGRICULTURE (FROM INDIA)

 

Erle Frayne Argonza

 

Putting together nanotechnology, biotechnology and bio-informatics is a new challenging area of R&D in the field of agriculture.

 

The experts of India, with the co-sponsorship by the state, are now into the next exciting phase of developing food production via this new integration methodology and practice. The implications of the new practice on quality control are legion, to say the least.

 

Happy reading.

 

[21 July 2003, Quezon City, MetroManila. Via SciDev update reports.]

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India looks to nanotechnology to boost agriculture

M. Sreelata

16 May 2008 | EN

Nanotechnology could help water delivery systems for farming

Flickr/IRRI

The Indian government is looking towards nanotechnology as a means of boosting agricultural productivity in the country.

In a report released in April, the Planning Commission of India recommends nanotechnology research and development (R&D) should become one of six areas for investment.

The commission recommends policies to and carries out financial planning for government departments. The report was written by a subgroup of the commission, and will be incorporated into India’s eleventh five-year plan, for 2007–2012.

The authors recommend ways to harness nanotechnology, biotechnology and bioinformatics to transform Indian agriculture, including creating a national institute of nanotechnology in agriculture.

The report says nanotechnology such as nano-sensors and nano-based smart delivery systems could help ensure natural resources like water, nutrients and chemicals are used efficiently in agriculture. Nano-barcodes and nano-processing could also help monitor the quality of agricultural produce.

The report proposes a national consortium on nanotechnology R&D, to include the proposed national institute and Indian institutions that are already actively researching nanotechnology.

It also recommends that Indian universities and institutions develop suitable graduate and postgraduate programmes to train young scientists in nanotechnology.

Vandana Dwivedi, coordinator of the subgroup and an advisor in the Planning Commission, says implementing all the report’s recommendations will take time, though she hopes to see some of the aspects rolled out in the 2007–2012 five-year plan. No specific initiatives on nanotechnology have yet been announced.

But not everyone is impressed by the government’s plans. India should be cautious about rushing for technologies, says M. S. Swaminathan, a former head of the National Commission for Farmers and widely considered the father of India’s green revolution. 

“If technology has applications, it has limitations too. Right from the beginning it is advisable to have a national regulatory commission on nanotechnology so that people don’t get into litigation later,” he told SciDev.Net.

Swaminathan believes transferring existing technologies to farmers should take priority, saying, “We should first disseminate ordinary technology to the farmer. Even the basic know-how has not reached fields yet. The gap between scientific know-how and field level do-how remains as wide as ever.”