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important to understand that factual data are relevant, and that African researchers and research managers should have access to them. Various databases are available, and new tools and techniques allow for data mining and pulling together the different sources of data in order to make sense of them. These databases must be inter-connected and populated with relevant data from Africa itself.

The African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) have become very important strategic initiatives. NEPAD, for instance, emphasizes the promotion of cross-border cooperation and connectivity and the utilization of knowledge currently available in centers of excellence and within each country. This assumes, of course, that the centers of excellence will continue to be maintained and remain excellent. NEPAD also emphasizes the development and adaptation of information collection and analytical capacity of the research community. It is not useful to collect data without performing sufficient analysis, correction, contextualization, and categorization. This initiative also emphasizes the generation of a critical mass of technology expertise.

At a February 2003 NEPAD workshop Dr. Ben Ngubane, the Minister of Arts, Culture, Science, and Technology in South Africa, stated that the strategic significance of the NEPAD objectives lies in their focus on strengthening regional and subregional cooperation through the use of geographical information systems, the convergence of products and standards, quality, and control, and the integration of excellence into the spheres of biotechnology and natural sciences. It is critical that within the African region we contribute to the data generated around the world.

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