SciDev.Net: Oiling the Wheels of Ugandan Science

The discovery in Uganda last year of one of Sub-Saharan Africa's largest onshore oil fields might seem like good news for all people in the impoverished nation.

But, as experience from other countries such as Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria has shown, oil revenues tend to enrich the few and fail to improve life for the majority.

Could Uganda do better? President Yoweri Museveni thinks so, saying he plans to spend the oil revenues on national development programmes, including major investment in science and innovation. But there are fears he will reduce funds from other sources too soon...

...The most controversial move came in April when an official from the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) told SciDev.Net that the government was not planning to renew the five year loan it received from the World Bank's Millennium Science Initiative (MSI) in 2006.

The US$33 million low-interest loan from the MSI is highly significant for Ugandan science. It is currently used to support 22 research projects and train about 3,660 scientists and engineers, some 100 at masters and PhD level. It has funded lab equipment, curriculum reviews, libraries and academic link-ups with private companies.

The first funding round was in 2007 and the money will last until 2012.

But the government now wants to take over the programmes started under the scheme. Article here.

July 2010