Parliament adopts research law to prioritise economy

Algeria’s parliament has adopted a new framework scientific research law that Tahar Hadjar, the minister for higher education and scientific research, says will give priority to the country’s socio-economic needs.

Hadjar told members of parliament after the vote on 10 September that the scientific research and technological development law aimed to strengthen the legislative system for research, and “also has the objective of integrating scientific research into the economic and social domain, through the exploitation of research results for development”, reported Algérie Presse Service, or APS.

The 60-article law also provided for the transfer of research findings and knowledge through the designation of priority research programmes. All ministerial departments could propose such areas, and specialist committees would judge which were priorities, said APS.

Hadjar said he was “optimistic” for the future of scientific research in Algeria, citing the results of research carried out in several fields including those concerning the building of a first Algerian satellite, reported APS.

The law’s provisions

The law stipulates that scientific research and technological development are ‘national priorities’ focused on promoting economic growth. The economic community must invest in the national effort of promoting research and technological development while benefiting from incentives that would be defined annually under finance laws, reported APS.

It commits the state to support innovative companies at all stages, from incubation through development to the end product, and those carrying out research and development could receive funding from the national research budget, said APS.

It also provides for researchers to work on attachment in subsidiaries set up by research organisations on behalf of innovation companies, to increase these companies’ resources.

Under the law, regular assessment of research activities will be ensured following recomposition of the National Evaluation Council with independent scientific members, and improved programming and evaluation of research activities by the thematic research agencies, reported APS.

It also proposes setting up a national conference of research establishments to provide “a framework of dialogue, coordination and evaluation” for the network of research institutions, to strengthen the institutional research system.

Need for companies to innovate

In an interview with APS, Professor Hafid Aourag, director-general of scientific research and technological development at the ministry, said: “The socio-economic sector must understand that it cannot develop without the necessary research and development structures.

“It cannot continue to import licences and manufacture the same products for decades. It must innovate and develop new products to face up to the market.”

Aourag told APS: “There is no authorised research centre or facility in the Algerian socio-economic field, and no researcher in industry,” while, he claimed, in France 250,000 out of 350,000 researchers worked in industry and 88% of researchers worldwide worked in the industrial sector.

The new law introduced the concept of “a ‘thesis in industry’ to respond to the needs of the sector”, he said. Researchers financed by the state must add value to the country’s economy.

Aourag stressed the need for qualified human resources for a reliable system of research. “Today, we must not deceive ourselves, telling ourselves we can compare ourselves with other countries. We are still far behind in human resources and skills.

“We have nearly 30,000 researchers of whom only 33%, or 10,000, have the capacity to be autonomous and carry out research independently of others,” he told APS.

A great effort in higher education was needed to expand doctoral education, insofar as the capacity for innovation of a country largely depended on the number and the qualifications of the people devoted to research and development in its companies, universities and research centres, he said.

To fill the current need for qualified researchers, Aourag hoped that Algerian researchers working abroad would help the national effort, “but very few have replied to the call”, he regretted.

* This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.