Reflecting its growing interest in science, Ethiopia is launching its first science academy tomorrow, 10 April, in the capital city of Addis Ababa. An independent body, the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences (EAS), will provide advice to the government and promote science, technology, and science education. Demissie Habte, a pediatrician and former dean of medicine at Addis Ababa University and a World Bank health specialist, has been elected president of EAS; the academy has a founding membership of 50 fellows.
Ethiopian scientists have long dreamed about opening such an academy. Although pioneers laid the groundwork for an academy in the 1960s, political turmoil in the 1970s and 1980s halted their plans. In 2008, with support from the U.K.'s Royal Society, researchers at Addis Ababa University resurrected the idea. The Royal Society also supports academies in Ghana and Tanzania and plans to develop a network of African science academies. Long-term funding remains an open question. EAS has not yet been recognized by the Ethiopian Parliament, but is expected to be approved soon. After that, it will seek government funding. In the interim, EAS will receive funding until the end of 2011 from the Royal Society.