As the African proverb succinctly puts it “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. The NEPAD flagship programmes NEPAD-Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio) and NEPAD Water Centres of Excellence (NEPAD Water CoE) are applying this principle to address common biosciences and water challenges in the SADC region. The two network managers, Dr Ereck Chakauya (NEPAD-SANBio) and Mr Nico Elema of the NEPAD Southern African Network of Water Centres of Excellence (NEPAD-SANWATCE) recently met at University of Stellenbosch, the NEPAD-SANWATCE hub, to share experiences on Network building, resource mobilisation and joint collaboration projects.
The NEPAD-SANBio and NEPAD-SANWATCE are both network formed under the AU Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA) and recently reconfigured to effectively implement the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024 - a 10-year strategy which is part of the long-term African Union Agenda 2063). STISA-2024 envisages the accelerated transition of largely commodity-based African economies to innovation-led, knowledge-based economies. Such economies should be underpinned by robust science, technology and innovation (STI) systems.
NEPAD-SANBio operates through a hub and spokes model and supports Research, Development and Innovation (RD&I) projects through its programmes such as BioFISA, a partnership between the Southern African countries and Finnish government. The Network is implementing biosciences projects on a regional multi-country basis in the priority areas of health and nutrition.
NEPAD-SANWATCE is a network of Higher Education and Research institutions who conduct high-end scientific research on water and related sectors in order to provide policy guidelines to governments. It is composed of 10 Centres of Excellence in seven Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries.
The managers noted that there is a need to collaborate on projects focusing on the water and Biosciences interphase, joint funding students and postdocs, , as well as mapping the possibilities of creating a joint scientific equipment inventory for the region. To realise this collaboration, the first SANBio/SANWATCE studentships will be launched early 2016.