Kenya President appeals to African governments to be committed to science

April 3, 2012 – President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya has appealed to African governments to demonstrate their commitments to the agenda of financing Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for accelerated growth and advancement.

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

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

He 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’s words are highly encouraging. As an African leader, he is beginning to recognise just how key science, development and digital technology can have a positive impact on Africa; enabling communities to new technologies to improve their lifestyle and show off their identities to the rest of the world.

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.

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 team was championing innovation and integration of STI at all levels as a strategy to enhance human capacity for accelerated development.

“Outcomes derived from the conference would serve as the basis for the RIO+20 Conference in Brazil. 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.”

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