Science, technology and innovation (STI) is known worldwide to be the driver for economic development. Countries in the south-east Asia like Japan and Korea have achieved high economic growth through the utilization of STI. Malawi, therefore, needs to harness STI in order to drive national development objectives and processes.
Malawi developed and approved the National Science and Technology Policy (NSTP) first in 1991 and was revised in 2002. The national science policy was aimed at integrating STI in national development and providing guidance on coordination mechanisms. The Science and Technology Act No. 16 of 2003 provided for the establishment of the National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) as a coordinating body. Despite approval, the policy was not fully implemented largely due to the uncoordinated pluralistic approach to STI. In 2008, UNESCO responded positively to Malawi’s request for assistance to review its science, technology and innovation (STI) policy. UNESCO supported Malawi in organising stakeholder consultations and Malawi’s participation in sub-regional training workshops on STI and also supported the work of a national task force that produced a draft Global Observatory of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Instruments (GO-SPIN). Malawi was one of the beneficiary countries of the first phase of the Spanish funded UNESCO project on Capacity Building for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy in Africa. Under this project UNESCO supported Malawi in the elaboration of the country’s status report on STI and the revision of the national STI policy as well as the development of STI indicators and statistics report. The activities in the project included among others:
- Strengthening the capacity of the government and main stakeholders to support the finalization of the process to review and adopt the revised STI policy for Malawi; and
- Designing a monitoring and evaluation system for the implementation of the STI policy and related policy instruments in Malawi.
The country profile served as a spring board for policy review which led to the operationalisation of the 2003 Act. In November 2008, Cabinet approved the setting up of the NCST which became operational in 2010.