Unless developing countries embrace knowledge based and scientific data driven economies, their development aspirations and prospects could remain a mirage, says a UNESCO official. Dr. Peggy Oti-Boateng who is a senior programmes specialist for science and technology for Africa at the Agency’s Nairobi office, added that abundant natural resource deposits in Africa has resulted in unprecedented foreign direct investment, with little involvement of the locals.
‘This is because many African governments still do not have science, technology, engineering and innovation (SETI) policies and needed capacity to sustainably exploit the continent’s potential for socio-economic advancement,’ Dr. Oti-Boateng explains.
The official noted that the continent has come under the grip of climate change with debilitating effects on agriculture, water, and health. This, Peggy says, can be ameliorated by creating a critical mass of expertise in SETI with attendant governance systems and responsive policy frameworks.
‘The continent should harness SETI to stimulate job creation and economic growth; and promote intra-African trade through existing regional economic communities,’ says Peggy.
UNESCO, she adds, is currently spearheading regional centres of excellence in thematic areas besides facilitating global partnerships to enhance Africa’s visibility in training, research, and innovation.
Dr. Oti-Boateng was speaking Wednesday at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology where she presided over the opening of the Varsity’s 5th International Conference on Sustainable Research and Innovation.
Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga noted that the conference was part of the University strategy to contribute to Kenya’s development agenda by stimulating innovation in the areas of industrialization, climate change, intellectual property, renewable energy, and telecommunications, among others.
JKUAT has also launched a quarterly peer reviewed open access Journal of Sustainable Research in Engineering, a platform that enable researchers from Kenya and beyond to publish their research findings.
The three day conference has brought together 80 scholars, policy makers and industry leaders from Canada, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan and Kenya. The conference affords researchers an opportunity to disseminate research findings and build networks and partnerships to foster multidisciplinary research initiatives in future
Industry players will equally provide feedback to the academia on the impact of various research outputs churned by local and international researchers. Such feedback is envisaged to spur further innovations.
The conference attracted 74 papers in a wide range of areas including: renewable energy, environment, industrial processes, climate change, telecommunications, and sustainable research.