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At 1st and 2nd of November 1998 the SEPAC Working Group „Information, Industrial Technology Development and Transfer" convened a conference on issues relating to small-scale technology. The conference was hosted by the Rural Industrial Innovation Centre (RIIC) in Kanye/Botswana, a member of the Working Group, which holds the chair of SEPAC. RIIC and the SEPAC Secretariat shared the task of organising the conference, while the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation provided necessary funding. The main objectives of the conference were to exchange information on technology transfer activities in SADC countries, to initiate a network among organisations providing technological assistance to SMME, to share information on technology-related activities of international organisations, and to prepare an action plan of the Working Group.

This reader provides the papers presented at the conference, both by members and invited participants, among others Dr. Hinojosa-Barragan from the UNIDO Headquarters. The country reports reveal a wide spectrum of different approaches to shared problems inherent in the challenge of enhancing the technological level of SMMEs. Identification of profitable market and technical niches, acquisition, adaptation and development of technologies, dissemination of technical skills and training of users are some of the outstanding tasks facing all technical support organisations alike. Hence the discussions were intense and useful, and above all shed light on the many opportunities of cross-border collaboration.

Not surprisingly, therefore, regional cooperation was a topic common to the three sub-groups, which were formed to discuss issues pertinent to technology acquisition, technology transfer and SMME policies.

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Suggestions were made to forge closer relationships between technological support organisations through activities, such as the temporary exchange of staff, sharing of knowledge and information on new technologies, joint projects towards developing, testing and demonstrating new technical devices, and establishing a regional database.

The SADC Secretariat officially opened the conference by a speech of the Deputy Executive Secretary, Dr. P. Ramsamy. SADC emphasised the importance of regional technological cooperation, which was made the theme of the SADC Council and Consultative Meeting in February 1999.

After the conference two member organisations started to work on one of the recommendations without delay. Still in November 1998, SPES (Mauritius) and NAMAC (South Africa) established a website for SEPAC, which will host i.a. a database on SMME service providers. Particular efforts will be made to build up a database on regionally available technical facilities and skills.

Peter Oesterdiekhoff
SEPAC Secretariat

© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | Dezember 1999

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