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Science and technology capacity building and partnership in African agriculture: perspectives on Mali and Egypt

Ayele, S   Wield, D

Journal of International Development   17 (5) 631-646

July 2005   (First published online June 2005)

Science and technology (S&T) have long been seen as key for development. This paper considers the issue of capacity building in the light of recent reconceptualization of the role of science and technology in development. Reconceptualization suggests that science and technology are better seen as key elements of innovation systems, which are themselves the means of gaining value from knowledge creation; and, that innovation, knowledge and development are tightly knit elements of a system of organisations and institutions that must function coherently for improved knowledge and innovation systems to emerge. Developing such systems requires linkages of many types. The paper describes and discusses the conceptual basis for capacity building interventions, using partnership-based capacity building initiatives in new agricultural technologies from Mali and Egypt. The empirical analysis from both countries shows evidence of research capacity building in the form of recruitment, training of scientific staff and provision of research infrastructure. Unsurprisingly, given the S&T knowledge base, the Malian case illustrates the difficulty of moving beyond basic forms of research capacity building. In Egypt, with significant S&&T capacity, there is evidence of organizational and institutional innovation towards broader knowledge, and innovation system development in agri-biotechnology. The role of partnerships, and government as systems-builder, are shown to be important. Lessons are drawn from these (and other) cases about the relationship between partnerships, S&&T and innovation capacity building.