The Star (Nairobi)

29 June 2012

Kenya: Raila Calls for Increased Investment in Research

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has called for increased investment in research to help unlock the country's economic development potential. Raila said the country needs to allocate more funding to research to step up scientific discoveries so as to help tackle challenges brought about by technological development. "Development is how you deal with the basic enemies of humankind like diseases, poverty and illiteracy. If we don't engage in basic research, we cannot open the frontiers of development," he said.

The PM said research will help in opening up proper utilization of solar and nuclear energy to end the current energy crisis and speed up development through entrepreneurial development. He was speaking at Masinde Muliro University of Science & Technology during the 2012 annual conference whose theme was Action Research in Higher Education and Development in Africa.

The PM was accompanied by Planning minister Wycliffe Oparanya, Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba, Commission of Higher Education secretary Prof Everett Sitanda, Higher Education secretary Prof Harry Kaane and Masinde Muliro university VC Prof Wangila Barasa. Raila said investment in research will produce the require skilled manpower under Vision 2030 to drive the country's industrial development forward. "Africa is the richest country in terms of mineral resources but it is paradoxically the poorest in the world because of the mediocrity with which it has been led that has forced it to remain backwards," he said. "We must look at how we can use technology to achieve the rights of Kenyans enshrined in the constitution like education, affordable heath care, education, food and shelter and employment. We must research on what may render the facilities we put in place of little use to us,' said the MP.

The PM said that realization of the rights of Kenyan in the constitution would depend on election of a leadership that believes in reforms and full implementation of the constitution. "I am an afro-optimist who believe that all is not lost for African countries,' he added. He said that researchers should come up with treatment for "civilized" like diabetes noting that Kenya was losing a lot of revenue by seeking treatment abroad.

Noting that Kenya has all that is required to take off economically, the PM said that Kenya should now move towards use of nuclear energy for treatment of cancer by investing more in research. Oparanya said that Kenya require reforms if it were to move forward. He added that enactment of the new constitution would meaningless to Kenyans unless they elected reform minded leaders to ensure its full implementation. Oparanya said there is need to invest heavily in human resource to help achieve Vision 2030.

Raila said that only research would be able to help stabilise the country's food security by researching on high yielding seeds for farmers to mitigate the ever shrinking land size as population grows. "Research should help demystify what is already available," he said. He added that there is need for the leadership to put more funds in higher education to boost knowledge base.

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