Today was the first day of a 10 day trip to Africa on behalf of The Scientist to talk to researchers about the linkurl:state of science; on the continent. On my inaugural stop, I visited John Mugabe, director of the science and technology council of the linkurl:New Economic Partnership for African Development; (NEPAD), whose office is in a research campus on the edge of Pretoria, South Africa. Mugabe is not a vociferous man, and when he talks about the signs of change that are rippling across the linkurl:African science; community, he chooses his words carefully to avoid hyperbole. Nevertheless, I've come away from the interview with the strong sense of his hope and optimism about shifts taking place in the big picture for science in Africa. He pointed to several indicators that science is gaining political capital on the continent. First and perhaps most important was the establishment in 2003...

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