Kenya President appeals to African leaders to commit to science

AFRICA POLITICS

Kenya President Mwai Kibaki has appealed to African leaders to demonstrate their commitments to the agenda of financing Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for accelerated growth and advancement. 

Mwai Kibaki, Kenya president

He said many STI platforms in Africa had not progressed because of inadequate funding for the sector and this is a drawback to research, human capital and inclusive growth.

President Kibaki said this at the opening of a three-day first African Forum on STI for youth employment, human capital development and inclusive growth in Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday.

“We need the STI policies to build appropriate capacities for local priority prerequisites and harness the synergies for the development of all sectors,” he said.

He therefore called on governments, academia, private sector and civil society groups to devise appropriate policies and research infrastructure towards retaining the top-notch researchers within Africa and additionally attract others from the diaspora.

President Kibaki said platforms being created to champion its vision 2030 agenda had begun, yielding dividend with STI being the principal driving force for sustainable and equitable national development.

He said he was elated by the display of innovation and candour exhibited by young scientists, researchers and institutions and added “in spite of the progress, much more need to be done towards making the country the hub of STI development in Africa.”

President Kibaki urged stakeholders to collaborate to control the reverse of the brain-drain syndrome through appropriate strategies and packages.

Mr Erasmus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson, African Union Commission, said STI was on top of their agenda, which it is repositioning to build the necessary infrastructure for a scientific and industrial take-off.

He said products such as the research grants and scholarships to sharpen competencies to promote greater participation and involvement of scientists, researchers and institutions in implementing the Consolidated Plan of Action have seen the light of day.

Mr Mwencha said the pan-African Research programme to revitalise higher education and address the deficits in the sector have received boost with the establishment of five such institutions across the continent.

Mr Donald Kabreruka, President of African Development Bank (AfDB), said the continent had the potential to unlock and discover itself with emerging statistics showing that six countries emerged tops as strong economies in 2010/2011 fiscal year.

“This is an attestation that the risk factor profile of Africa has improved and the continent will master its gains only by ability to advance. This should not be based on finite and exhaustible commodities though.”

He said globally one out of four people would be African in the next decade with comparative advantage of owning the largest workforce with the unique challenge being the ability to take up the demographic dividend as a bargaining chip.

“Dr Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCSO, said her outfit was championing innovation and integration of STI at all levels as a strategy to enhance human capacity for accelerated development.

She said outcomes derived from the conference would serve as the basis for the RIO+20 Conference in Brazil.

She said UNESCO is working with over 20 African countries to review existing STI policies and formulate national frameworks in addition to strengthening the capacity of policy-makers, researchers, development partners and the private sector.

“Act on the basis of partnership and collaboration be it bilateral, multilateral or trilateral provided this will bring innovation to facilitate development in STI.”

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Source: Ghana News Agency

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