Nairobi, Kenya — The government is committed to maximum exploitation of science and technological innovations for the realisation of sustainable and equitable development in the country, President Mwai Kibaki has asserted.
The president emphasised that both the Constitution and the country's development blue print, Vision 2030, explicitly recognised the critical role played by science and technology in achieving sustainable national development and global competitiveness.
Speaking when he officially opened the first African Science, Technology and Innovation Forum in Nairobi, the president said that Kenya had spearheaded world-leading technologies in such essential areas as mobile banking and financial transactions.
The Head of State noted:"I am sure there are many innovative science and technology initiatives in all our African countries."
"I am glad to note that Africa has taken decisive steps towards ensuring that science and technology are brought to the centre of our development efforts," he added.
The Head of State said the government had formulated a National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy whose main objective is to create indigenous science, technology and innovation capacities appropriate to deal with the country's needs.
He affirmed that Kenya accords high priority to regional and international collaborations in science, technology and innovations and thanked the African Development Bank and UNESCO for their steadfast support in these fields.
The president took note of scientific breakthroughs made in the continent and urged African governments and scientists to work closely for the development and benefit of the African people.
He said: "I call upon each one of us to work together for the common good and development of our people. Indeed, there is greater benefit in collaboration between us than in working alone."
The Head of State noted that Africa was currently experiencing rapid economic growth but added that there was urgent need to ensure that innovative technology catapulted the growth to another level.
He emphasised that the continent must develop technologies that will trigger industrial revolution, for Africa to compete effectively in the global market.
He reiterated: "This is imperative as rapid industrialisation holds the key to addressing some of our continent's most pressing challenges particularly poverty, inequality, and unemployment."
Despite commendable progress being made in the scientific and technological fields, President Kibaki cautioned that more needs to be done to ensure Africa becomes a global hub for innovations.
He urged for the implementation of measures to control and reverse substantial brain drain out of the continent so as to attract back home Africa's brilliant sons and daughters who are working in foreign nations.
"I call upon governments, academic and research institutions as well as the private sector to put in place policies as well as the infrastructure for research and development that will attract and retain top-notch scientists and researchers, both from Africa and the rest of the world," President Kibaki remarked.
Addressing the conference, Africa Development Bank (AfDB) President Donald Kaberuka called on African countries to facilitate children from poor and marginalised backgrounds to access education.
Kaberuka noted that education was a key pillar in unlocking the economic potential to create equitable wealth in the continent.
On her part, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova expressed her organisation's commitment to support education programmes at all levels and urged governments to ensure equity in the provision of education among the poor citizens and the marginalised.