Knowledge and development of African countries : Africa Prime
This project aimed to look at research and innovation systems in/of developing countries without the common bias of defining weaknesses in terms of the differences with what developed countries (TRIAD countries) do and can do.
Undeniably, there are weaknesses (cf. also the appendix to the technical annex with an overview of African countries), but these should be seen as aspects of the own trajectory of the countries.
The dynamic multi-level approach of PRIME to (national) research and innovation systems (RIS) was particularly suited to such a task, even if it has to be developed further than it stands now.
The present proposal was for a demonstrator project, showing that such an approach is possible, rather than a fullfledged study.
We had chosen to focus on South Africa in the first instance, because enough data and understanding were available to immediately go for analysis in terms of the PRIME approach-to-be-extended. Wedid a brief stock-taking exercise of African countries to be able to identify what next steps could be.
The exploratory work on the role of knowledge in the development of the least developed countries (Africa Prime, strategic report, January 2008, dossier 8, attached CD) has generated multiple discussions within UNESCO based upon papers presented by A. Rip (e.g. UNESCO global forum, 28-29 November 2008) and has been further discussed in special sessions of the joint GLOBELICS-PRIME conference in Mexico (September 2008). This has been recognised as an important issue and UNESCO is devising a pluri-annual training programme for professionals derived from the STIP course (see training section) and implemented by the university in charge of PRIME Training, the University of Manchester (agreed starting year : 2011). However this does not fully replace our initial ambition which was to built a Prime network in Africa between specialised teams (our analysis had shown that there were more established and visible teams in Africa than in the new Member States but this was not recognised as such by the Commission which did not want us to engage into that direction).