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Federal Government Expenditure on Scientific and Technological Activities, 2016/17

Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) are key drivers of economic and social development. Its indicators are important tools to measure the progress and competitiveness of a country. The ability to create, distribute and exploit knowledge is a major source of competitive advantage, wealth creation and improvements in the quality of life. As Paulo Correa (2014) stated, in order to help the country to achieve its ambitions in a range of areas, including the economy, education, health, minerals, energy, agriculture and the environment etc., it required increased levels of STAs.

The 2030 Agenda, adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015 positioned Science, Technology and Innovation as key means of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The African Union Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA-2024) also places science, technology and innovation at the center of Africa’s socio-economic development and growth. One of the policy commitments and key deliverables of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) of 2015 is domestic resource mobilization for critical areas of sustainable development including science, technology and innovation.

The government of Ethiopia has also long recognized the need to focus on STI development for the achievement of the country’s development goals. Over the last decade a number of measures have been taken to improve the science and technology situation of Ethiopia. This involve the different steps taken to strengthen the institutional set up of science and technology governance, the adoption of new science, technology and innovation policy and increased investments in scientific and technological activities.

The innovation systems approach was adopted in the designing of the STI policy of 2012 (MoST, 2010). This approach brings in a broader set of actors and institutions as shaping the innovation process. It rests on the premise that understanding the linkages among the actors involved in innovation is crucial to improving technology performance.

With this understanding strengthening of the various components of the national innovation system and developing strong relationships among them was a matter of prior concern for the government of Ethiopia.

An assessment of how the STI system or its components are doing requires performance measurement through the use of indicators. Such indicators help to assess whether the system is showing progress or worsening and its situation in relation to some comparison group. Recognizing this fact the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (the former MoST) has initiated an R&D survey in 2010 to learn about the effectiveness of investments in R&D.

This survey was followed by a second one in 2014 and a third R&D survey was conducted in 2016/17. The current survey on federal government expenditure on scientific and technological activities forms part of this broader effort to measure national STI investments and their possible impact on economic performance.

STAs include the “family of scientific and technological activities”, which are research and experimental development (R&D), scientific and technical education and training (STET) and scientific and technological services (STS). As Paulo Correa (2014) stated “few governments can answer with confidence the basic questions of how much is being spent, for what purpose, and with what results”. Consequently, governments often lack the tools to properly allocate resources, ensure adequate returns on the spending, or even account for its uses.

Ethiopia is currently implementing the second phase of its Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP-II) which runs from 2015/16 to 2019/20. The Plan aims to continue improvements in physical infrastructure through public investment projects and transform the country into a manufacturing hub. The overarching goal is to turn Ethiopia into a lower-middle-income country by 2025. The implementation of the country’s STI policy was considered as one of the key tasks to the achievement of the objectives of the first GTP (2010/11-2014/15) and it is also believed that it plays a key role to the realization of GTP II’s goal.

The extent to which the implementation of the policy has brought the desired results can be understood when some quantitative data on the effectiveness of investments in STI is made available. It is with this understanding that the Technology and Innovation Institute (TECHIN) formed a team to conduct a survey on federal government expenditure on scientific and technological activities. This report presents the findings of the survey and is expected to serve as an important tool for policy makers and a source of valuable data for other stakeholders.

 

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