Initiatives for strengthening science and technology policy in the field of environment and development: The case of the African Centre for Technology Studies Capacity Development Programme | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1474-2748
  • E-ISSN: 2040-0551


A capacity-building programme for sub-Saharan Africa was undertaken as an intergovernmental initiative over a four-year period during the mid-1990s. The African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) Capacity Development Programme [CDP] was established in 1994 to enhance policy analysis capacities in sub- Saharan Africa with special reference to issues of technology and environmental policy arising out of Agenda 21. A number of important features and lessons emerged from this experience: the introduction of policy analysis directly to the recipients (government officials) and the providers of knowledge (research sector); a focus on the problem as the unit of analysis rather than the academic discipline; a combination of broad orientation lectures and seminars (to bring participants up to speed with basic issues and agendas) with field research project work (to show participants that there is much to be gained by interacting directly with those at the receiving end of public policy); training in basic communications skills (verbal and written); and a focus on a specific set of policy issues (those arising from the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climatic Change). Despite some success with this approach, it became clear that this is a new form of capacity building that needs further exploration. The main lesson perhaps is that such initiatives should be tried out in other contexts. What is certainly true is that the need for this type of capacity-building programme is a sad reflection on the higher education sector in many countries.


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