SADC, Japan map out cooperation in science, technology

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pretoria - South Africa, as Chair of SADC, on Monday hosted the SADC-Japan meeting where representatives of research institutions discussed possible areas of cooperation in science, technology and innovation between SADC and Japan.

The meeting follows the African and Japanese Ministers of Science and Technology meeting held in Tokyo, Japan, in October 2008 where Japan indicated interest in cooperating with Africa in the area of science, technology and innovation.

Speaking to BuaNews during the meeting, the Department of Science ad Technology Director who is also the Group Executive of International Cooperation and Resources, Thomas Auf der Heyde said the energy, water and agriculture technologies would be explored for further co-operation.

From the Japanese side, Deputy Director General for Innovation, Science and Technology, Akihiko Iwahashi told BuaNews that the Japanese will be undertaking a mission to Africa, and engaging with various regional economic communities.

"The most important point is to be more familiar with African needs, policies and priorities," said Mr Iwahashi, adding that previously funding for science and technology had not been uniquely catered for.

He said Japan will continue to strengthen science, technology and innovation co-ordination with SADC.

He said it was for this reason that his delegation would also visit research institutions and sites of future science and technology to see how best they can assist.

The seminar was attended by senior representatives from nine of the 15 member countries.

Mr der Heyde further said the representatives were afforded an opportunity to leverage funding for science and technology projects in the region and share of scientific knowledge between SADC and Japan.

"Other possible areas of cooperation that the meeting discussed included biosciences, energy, climate change, space science, astronomy and nanotechnology.

"We want to ensure that the SADC contributes to and benefits from the global pool of scientific knowledge and technological innovations that we facilitate national, regional, continental and global cooperation in science and technology. "

The African Union has also called for regional economic communities to establish such cooperation so that they can apply science, technology and innovation to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development.

Science and technology has been noted as an essential to accelerate growth and to resolve problems that African countries face today.

Japan is well known for its automotive and electronics industries throughout the world, and its electronic products account for a large share in the world market, compared to a majority of other countries and also their automotive industries.

Japan is also one of the leading nations in the fields of scientific research, technology, machinery and medical research with the world's third largest budget for research and development at $130 billion USD and over 677,000 researchers.

Japan has received the most science Nobel prizes in Asia.

It also has large international corporate conglomerates such as Fuji and Sony, which are among the most well-known electronics companies in the world.

Some of Japan's more important technological contributions are found in the fields of electronics, machinery, robotics, optics, chemicals, semiconductors and metals.