The New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) has launched the second phase of the Africa Science and Technology and Innovation Indicator (ASTII) and Africa Innovation Outlook projects aimed at building up the continent's capacity to collect and analyze data in order to promote innovation.

Through ASTII, Nepad is set to push for the development of science, technology and innovation in the region. Africa in general has experienced declining public expenditure on research and development. Nepad is the Africa Union's science and technology development arm.

Over the past years, Africa has been relying on data and statistics from outside the region. Problems plaguing the region's science, technology and innovation system include a weak link between industry and science and technology institutions as well as a mismatch between research and development activities and national industrial development strategies and goals.

As a result, research findings from public research institutions do not get accessed and used by local industries.

With ASTII, this is set to change as the region will for the first time be producing its own findings. Reports from the project will include a look at developments in science, technology and innovation in Africa at the national, regional and continental level.

The reports are also meant to showcase Africa science, technology development and innovation and help attract international investors in the region's science and technology sector.

ASTII is part of the Africa Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action, adopted in 2005 by the African ministerial council on science and technology (AMCOST). AMCOST is responsible for responding to the socio-economic challenges facing the region through the use of science, technology and innovation.

Several African countries including Zambia, Mozambique, Egypt, Uganda, South Africa and Tanzania have already benefited from the first phase of the project. The first phase of the ASTII, which as designed as a learning period and was coordinated by the African Union Commission, ran from 2007 to 2010. It gave the Africa Union member states an opportunity to engage in mutual learning and knowledge-sharing in order to improve methods to measure science, technology and innovation.

In the wake of the first phase of ASTII, "The Africa Union Commission is set to launch five new science, technology and innovation hubs across universities in Africa," said Vera Ngosi, director of the African Union's Human Resources Science and Technology Division.

The centers, Ngosi said, will focus on specialist areas to drive technology innovation on the continent.