The Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA), together with the Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio), with the collaboration of the GIZ Strengthening National-Regional Linkages (GIZ-SNRL) Programme – a partnership Programme between SADC, the European Union, and German Government, held National training workshops which were piloted thus far in 3 countries: Lesotho, DRC and Tanzania. The participants were senior officials drawn from the Department of Science and Technology and other key national institutions, such as universities and other stakeholders. An average of abut 30 participants were in attendance over the three days.
The majority of SADC Member States have Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policies in place and government agencies responsible for STI policy implementation. An increasing number of SADC Member States are in the process of taking steps to ensure legislative compliance with key STI enabling international instruments such as the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) and on issues of international Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) norms, but they do not have sufficient capacity to effectively implement and harness these norms for national development. The GIZ Strengthening National-Regional Linkages (SNRL) in SADC Programme in partnership with the SADC Secretariat, therefore, aims at enhancing the capacity of SADC Member States to domesticate and implement regional priorities at the national level including the implementation of STI policies and instruments. This is being done through a project ‘Sustainable capacity development initiative to create awareness on the SADC Protocol on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), among key national structures’ stakeholders and to strengthen their capacity to develop policy frameworks and mobilize resources for the implementation of the Protocol”.
The capacity building programmes are aimed at strengthening institutional capacities of Member States targeting the national government officials responsible for STI policy development and implementation through national initiatives or structures or agencies, research institutions including the universities, technology transfer officers at universities and research institutions and SMEs.
Piloting took place in a virtual workshop mode via the ZOOM online platform with key national stakeholders drawn from national departments or ministries, research institutions including universities, SMMEs, and technology transfer officers. The drafts tools were presented, followed by discussions, engagements, and reflections. The national stakeholders were provided with an opportunity to make recommendations on how the tools will be used to support the national STI framework and communication to the SADC Secretariat on STI.
Lesotho, DRC and Tanzania were chosen as some of the SADC countries to pilot the tools based on their interest expressed during the SADC inception workshop when the SADC Sustainability Capacity Building project on the SADC Protocol on STI was introduced to the Member States, to get the buy-in and support.
During the workshop, several presentations were made on the four policy tools. Areas covered in the workshop included: Research Ethics, Resource Mobilization Guidelines, Operationalization of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS Guidelines, and SADC IKS Policy Guidelines and Action Plan. Participants were given an opportunity to provide input on the policy tools to address their policy needs.
Piloting of the tools at the workshops was important to determine the feasibility of implementing the tools in the national STI framework implementation process, provide a better understanding of the tools to key national key stakeholders on STI, ensure that the tools work in practice and provide an opportunity for key national stakeholders to adjust and make revisions in the tools based on engagements and feedback if required.
Written by Prenitha Sewnarain