Building Science Systems in Africa: Conceptual Foundations and Empirical Considerations

Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) are key factors that can contribute to the acceleration of sustainable development of the African continent. Knowledge production and innovation are essential for the creation of wealth in African states. In the research, science and innovation ecosystems in Africa, research funding organizations play a leading role as they allocate resources to actors and institutions involved in the production and promotion of knowledge. The authors of this book and the editors met and collaborated through projects, activities and agenda that came together under the umbrella of the Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI), an Africa-wide undertaking that began in 2015 and continues until now. The initiative brought together councils, networks, centres and organizations from over 15 African countries, along with scholars, schools, and agencies from outside Africa. All of the above- mentioned are involved in fostering science and technology research in Africa and spurring innovation related to that research. The overall objectives of the initiative are to strengthen the capacity of science granting councils to manage scientific research, design and monitor research programmes based on the use of robust indicators, and support knowledge generation and exchange between and among the councils and other key science system actors. This initiative has been very beneficial to the partnership, the pooling of resources and the exchange of good practices between African research funding organization. Two important, related themes run across the book: science systems and science granting councils. Science systems are broad and complex (this will be explained in the introductory chapter) while science granting councils – the main beneficiaries of the initiative under which this book was conceived – are central actors to science systems in their countries. The book specifically recognizes that Science Granting Councils in Africa operate in a system made up of other organizations and governance frameworks, which create an enabling environment for research and innovation. Institutional capacity strengthening programmes designed and implemented by appreciating the systems approach could result in better outcomes and sustained impact in building strong research and innovation systems in Africa. Both themes are very important to African countries and regions, and African science actors are becoming more aware of their importance as well as more active in actualizing that importance.