18 June 2018

East Africa: Promote Science, Tech for Development, EAC Urged

Kigali — Technology promotion and development can accelerate economic growth in East Africa if appropriately applied.

Major beneficiaries will include the industrial and entrepreneurship sectors and assure employment to thousands of jobless youth.

"Application of science, technology and innovation (STI) will also support other key sectors like agriculture and energy," affirmed Dr Saidi Kibeya, the deputy executive secretary of the East African Science and Technology Commission (Easteco). He told visiting journalists from across the region that the institution, operationalised only three years ago, was geared to carry on its mandate with support from the partner states.

"In so doing we are set to identify potential regional centres of excellence and create a network of industrial research and development institutions," he said.

The Kigali-based institution of the East African Community (EAC) will soon start to develop a protocol on intellectual property rights (IPR) for the region.

Dr Kibeya, however, appealed for increased budget to enable the institution acquired adequate office space to cater for its expanding needs as well as enable it recruit more staff members.

For the coming 2018/2019 financial year budget unveiled recently, Easteco has been allocated $ 1.6 million for its expenditure, trailing seven of the nine other EAC institutions. Speaking during the visit, EAC secretary general Liberat Mfumukeko said STI can transform the largely agro-based economies of the region into a competitive industrial zone.

He said it was worrying that the region was consuming goods that were manufactured elsewhere "and by so doing exporting jobs that would ordinarily benefit our citizens".

"EAC partner states have great capacity to create wealth for their citizens by harnessing STI to transform their ideas and skills into products," he observed.

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