1.6 percent, the number of poor is expected to continue to rise as well (from 313 million in 2001 to 340 million by 2015). A few countries, such as Uganda and Ghana, have sustained remarkable progress in terms of poverty reduction, despite the many social, economic, and political challenges facing the region.

Below, South Africa’s recent success in biotechnology is highlighted.

South Africa

Despite its many social and health challenges—including HIV/AIDS, poverty, and crime—South Africa’s economy is expected to grow by about 4 to 5 percent per year over the next 10 years, propelling the country even further ahead than it already is in relation to its sub-Saharan neighbors. By focusing on arms, textiles, and mining, South Africa has developed a strong scientific and technological base over the past several decades, even while remaining relatively isolated from the international community while under the apartheid regime.177 South Africa’s industrial success in these areas led to a confidence that has fostered more recent huge strides in agricultural and health biotechnology.

In terms of health biotechnology, the government has established initiatives to encourage international partnerships in the life sciences industry; biotech start-ups, like Shimoda Biotech (with a focus on cyclodextrin drug delivery) and Bioclones (with a focus on monoclonal antibody technology testing for use in diagnostics and immunohistology), are emerging from universities and preexisting generic product companies; diagnostic testing and clinical trials are expanding; and recent controversy over HIV/AIDS national policy has raised awareness about recombinant vaccine trials.

In addition to developing its own national biotech sector, South Africa is hoping to use regional initiatives—such as the New Partnership for African Development—to export its products to other sub-Saharan countries and to use its biotechnological strength to address HIV/AIDS and other regional public health problems. The University of Cape Town and University of Stellenbosch are currently evaluating six different potential novel HIV/AIDS vaccine candidates; in 2002, two Phase I trials were launched, making South Africa the first country with multiple HIV vaccine trials and the first country to have executed a trial on a preventative vaccine against the HIV-1 C subtype.178

Elsewhere in Africa, in January 2005 a group of African scientists, engineers, and educators announced plans for an African Institute for Science and Technology, with the aim of strengthening sub-Saharan Africa’s tertiary education and research. Currently, the region has only about 83 scientists or engineers per million residents, which is one-sixth of the ratio

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