The African Science Academy Development Initiative (ASADI) was established in 2004 to strengthen African academies' ability to inform government policy-making and public discourse with independent, evidence-based advice. The initiative — supported by a $20 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and administered by the U.S. National Academies — will be carried out in Africa over the next decade, focusing on efforts to improve human health.
Africa's science and technology capacity is limited and unevenly distributed. Moreover, existing S&T knowledge in academia and industry in many African countries is disconnected from decision-making — decreasing the likelihood that the research community will contribute to policy improvements that would ultimately benefit the public at large. Stronger science academies can foster measures to save lives or raise the standard of living by settling key questions on topics such as malaria prevention, sustainable development, or agricultural production.
The science academies of Nigeria, Uganda, and South Africa were chosen as the initial focal points for the initiative. Some of the preliminary activities involve helping these academies hire and train staff members, implement administrative procedures, manage finances, conduct scientific studies, and organize forums and major meetings. In addition, strategic-planning grants will be given to the science academies of Cameroon, Senegal, Ghana, and Kenya, as well as the regional African Academy of Sciences. The effort also will support a series of annual meetings to encourage collaboration and joint learning among some of sub-Saharan Africa's academies.
ASADI's first annual international conference will take place Nov. 6-10 in Nairobi, Kenya. Public sessions will be held Nov. 7-8.