Yellow banner with pen and letters

Author: Souhila Amazouz

Science as a game-changer for the African continent


Science is a game changer for nations today, as more and more countries are adopting science as a tool for modernizing their economies and a means to monitor their development. It contributes to the formulation of well elaborated, evidence based and transversal policies that rely on relevant data and research, knowledge, appropriate methodologies, and monitoring systems to build certainty and trust around the policies themselves, as well as around the expected outcomes and socio-economic impact. 

Note: This article is a part of the publication ‘Science diplomacy capacity development: Reflections on Diplo’s 2021 course and the road ahead’

Science is a game changer for nations today, as more and more countries are adopting science as a tool for modernizing their economies and a means to monitor their development. It contributes to the formulation of well elaborated, evidence based and transversal policies that rely on relevant data and research, knowledge, appropriate methodologies, and monitoring systems to build certainty and trust around the policies themselves, as well as around the expected outcomes and socio-economic impact. 

Science diplomacy can be described as the interaction between the latest tendencies, marked by the increasing integration of emerging technologies and the automatization of almost all fields, and political debates surrounding each area, namely what affects living together and the future of humankind on earth such as climate change and pandemics

As an expert working in the field of ICT&Digital for an Intergovernmental Organisation, namely the African Union Commission, this course relates to my day-to-day work. It helped me to have a better understanding of the central place of science in contemporary economy and society and the link between technology and state affairs.

The knowledge I obtained in this course will support my work towards building political awareness of the growing importance of Science Diplomacy as well as the urgent need for African countries to incorporate science in policymaking processes, including foreign policies This is due to their interlinked nature, and that they have a direct impact on their economies as well as on national ownership and security.

More than ever before, the African continent is looking towards harnessing the potential of technology and science to address some of its lasting security and development issues. Indeed, aspects related to energy efficiency, climate change, health, satellite observation and responsible use of natural commodities are of special interest and therefore Science Diplomacy is an indispensable tool for bringing countries together to take informed decisions that safeguard both national and collective interests, positioning Africa as a strong partner in the global economy. 

With regard to the knowledge acquired in this course, the starting point for me would be facilitating policy dialogues between the diplomatic and scientific communities as our countries cannot afford to continue working in silos while the world is moving very fast with new concepts and new thinking on global issues. 

Another priority is reaching out and engaging African native scientists and incentivising them to share their expertise and put it at the disposal of their populations. The third point would be to advocate for the extensive use of science to ease negotiations and build trust among states.

I would recommend this course to policymakers, scientists and diplomats as it is a good platform for exchanging views and experiences from different perspectives and also an opportunity to build the Science Diplomacy community that will contribute to solving transnational problems, anticipate changes that may come in the future, mitigate risks, and prevent inter-state conflicts. 

Most importantly, it will give the ambition to speak the same and adequate language to embark our governments upon up-to-date and forward looking policies and approaches that preserve life and peace on our planet.

You may also be interested in


Knowledge management and diplomacy

In this paper we aim to provide a comprehensive introduction to the topic of knowledge management in diplomacy. First we provide working definitions of knowledge and knowledge management, and examine the evolution of the concepts. Next, we consider specific features of diplomacy that affect and limit the way knowledge management can be implemented. Then we look at specific techniques which diplomacy can adapt from the business sector in the field of knowledge management. Finally, we consider some important questions related to human resources and knowledge management.


Beyond diplomatic – the unravelling of history

In his paper, Robert Alston travels through time to rekindle an important highlight – as well as a personal highlight – in the history of knowledge management. His journey takes him back to the 1850s, which saw Antonio Panizzi’s efforts in creating a universal repository of knowledge in the British Museum; and to the 1990s, a time in which he acquired first-hand experience at the same museum, drawing conclusions on the various available ways of navigating large bibliographical and archival databases.


Science diplomacy capacity development

Diplo has a track record of more than 20 years of capacity development in diplomacy. Given the increasing relevance of science diplomacy, expanding our program to include aspects of its theory and practice felt like an organic development. We offered our ten-week Science Diplomacy course for the first time in October 2021.


Knowledge management: experience from international organisations

In this chapter, John Pace decribes the three-phase evolution of knowledge management in the human rights program of the United Nations. The realisation that knowledge management is a necessity came during the third phase. The author also describes the complex system of monitoring bodies and ad hoc mechanisms, and the developments that took place following four decisions taken in the mid-eighties.


How do you know what you think you know?

In his paper, J. Thomas Converse focuses on four records-related areas where the issues of knowledge management and diplomacy come together and provide the greatest challenges to archivists, diplomats, historians and technology providers: validation, trustworthiness, context and longevity. He also explores some of the changes and challenges brought about by technology, and urges for a continued embrace of technology, while at the same time demanding the validating and relational functions which give archives their trustworthiness.


The role of knowledge in the cyber-age of globalisation

In his paper, Richard Falk reflects on the application of information technology on diplomacy, and discusses the challenge of converting information technology to ‘knowledge technology’, and subsequently to ‘wisdom technology’. Yet, the ‘crossroads in human experience’ brings many challenges and dangers which the author analyses.


Knowledge management and international development – the role of diplomacy

In this chapter, Walter Fust talks about the role of knowledge management, and knowledge for development, in diplomacy. He describes various methods to assess what knowledge should be stocked, and explains the need for managers who are assigned the task of deciding what should be stocked. These decisions need to be guided by principles, or guidelines - referred to as value management.


Knowledge management and diplomatic training – new approaches for training institutions

Dietrich Kappeler analyses the new approaches for training institutions in knowledge management and diplomatic training, departing from the premise that a distinction is important between personal characteristics and qualities of the diplomat on one hand, and the knowledge and skills he needs to do his job on the other.


Knowledge management and change in international organisations: Learning from the private sector

In this paper, John Harper and Jennifer Cassingena Harper talk about knowledge as a vital resource, and the necessity of building competencies and establishing new skills. Analysing the theories by Ernst B. Haas in When Knowledge is Power: Three Models of Change in International Organisation, the authors trace the development of knowledge-oriented activities in the private sector, and its implications for organisations in the public and international domain.


Knowledge and Diplomacy

Knowledge and Diplomacy presents papers on knowledge and knowledge management from the January 1999 Conference on Knowledge and Diplomacy in Malta. The papers in this book, examining the topic from a variety of backgrounds, academic interests and orientations, reflect the multidisciplinary character of knowledge management. This publication is only available online.


Knowledge management in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malta

In this paper, Maltese diplomat Gaetan Naudi explains how the Maltese MFA embraced the changes introduced by the informatics era. He looks at such changes from a business management perspective, to show how ICTs were introduced to such a fairly large organisation, the concerns raised by the changes, and the progress on computerised knowledge management. He concludes that despite the positive changes introduced thanks to ICTs, this would not have been possible without human involvement.


Science & Diplomacy: How countries interact with the Boston innovation ecosystem

Crucial global topics are becoming increasingly dependent on the world’s rapidly changing scientific knowledge and technological capabilities: from global health to digital society, sustainability to development, and beyond. To tackle this growing complexity, countries increasingly seek to engage with international science and technology hubs like Boston, so as to accelerate their ability to innovate and spark collaborative efforts with other nations.


DiploDialogue – Metaphors for Diplomats

On Diplo’s blog, in Diplo’s classrooms, and at Diplo’s events, dialogues stretch over a series of entries, comments, and exchanges and may even linger. DiploDialogue summarises. It’s like in sports events: DiploDialogue aims to bring focus by deleting what, in hindsight, is less relevant. In this first DiploDialogue, Katharina Höne and Aldo Matteucci discuss the usefulness of analogies and metaphors for understanding international relations and diplomacy.


Knowledge and Diplomacy – Alex Sceberras Trigona

In his paper, Alex Sceberras Trigona stresses the importance of the diplomatic document as a primary source of diplomatic knowledge, in the light of the distinction between ‘information’ (can be recorded) and knowledge (not easily recorded), the flow of knowledge as information. He then explains the need for dissecting diplomatic documents, and the various level of analysis which are possible, and the effects of digitalisation on knowledge, information and diplomacy.