Headquarters of the East African Community, Arusha, Tanzania, 29 October 2021: The 2nd East African Community Science, Technology, and Innovation Conference is now taking place in Bujumbura, Burundi, at the Hotel Club Du Lac Taganyika.
The East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO) and the Inter-University Council for East Africa are hosting the three-day conference (IUCEA). The conference’s subject is Science, Technology, and Innovation’s Role in EAC Regional Integration and Socio-Economic Development in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Prof. Gaspard Banyankimbona, the Executive Secretary of the IUCEA, noted at the inauguration that the conference is one of the routes for developing STI in this region because it brings together diverse stakeholders in the field to exchange ideas and interact.
“The conference will provide an opportunity to learn about the East African region’s readiness to use advances in STI and existing systems in higher education and research, as well as taking advantage of academia, public, and private sector linkages in advancing the knowledge economy and addressing emerging challenges such as the Corona Pandemic,” says the conference’s website.
“Thematic parallel sessions and ministerial sessions have been designed into a sequence that is expected to play a vital role in tackling the perennial dilemma of information not finding its way into policy,” Prof. Banyankimbona continued. He asked policymakers, scientists and innovators, as well as technological and academic companies, to actively participate in the conference’s discussions. The results, he said, would help the EAC achieve its integration aspirations in the framework of STI.
H.E. Evariste Ndayishimiye, President of the Republic of Burundi, was represented by Prof. Frédéric Bangirinama, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research. He described the meeting as a “great chance” to share research, science, technology, and innovation experiences.
“Results such as developed relationships between policymakers, individuals, and organizations, and encouragement of uptake of research findings by government and industry for the development of policy, products, and services are expected at the end of this conference,” he stated.
He went on to say that the STI conference should result in “improved connectivity and partnership between academia, industry, and the public sector, as well as expanded ability for scientific idea exchange among academics, faculty, and innovators in our region.”
The EAC Deputy Secretary General in Charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo, stated that science, technology, and innovation are given substantial weight in the EAC Common Market Protocol as a driver of economic progress. “Article 42 of the Protocol directs Partner States to conduct cooperative research and development in order to foster STI development cooperation,” he explained. “Convening the STI meeting goes a long way toward supporting the attainment of the Treaty and the Common Market Protocol objectives,” he says.
The convening of the STI conference, according to EASTECO’s Ag. Executive Secretary, Mr. Fortunate Muyambi, is one of the ways to realizing the development of STI in the region.
“The conference’s major goal is to foster and strengthen strategic alliances among stakeholders in order to support the generation, dissemination, and translation of research findings, as well as to foster collaboration, networks, and partnerships in the region,” he stated.
The conference, he said, provides an opportunity for actors in the field of STI to exchange ideas and form an effective network for collaboration for the region’s benefit.
“In the STI area in the Community, a number of alliances exist, including government ministries of science and technology, national councils of science and technology innovation, research institutions, universities, and non-governmental organizations. These organizations largely operate in silos, with limited coordination, resulting in disjointed research, duplication, and lack of execution. “The majority of the research is still on shelves,” he said.
The first STI conference, co-organized by IUCEA, EASTECO, and the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), took place in October 2019 with the topic Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) as a Catalyst Towards Achievement of East Africa Community Vision 2050. At that gathering, the East African Journal of Science, Technology, and Innovation (EAJST) was created.
The EAC Treaty’s Articles 79 and 80, the Protocol for the Establishment of the EAC Common Market, and the EAC Development Strategy all express the region’s commitment to modernizing its economies through human resource development, research and innovation, and industrialization.
Agriculture, Food Security, and Rural Development; Health and Well-Being; Natural Resources and Environment; Infrastructure; Energy and Industrial Development; Information and Communication Technology (ICT); and STEM are among the conference sub-themes of this year’s STI conference. On Friday, October 29th, 2021, the conference will come to a close. To participate, go to https://2ndsticonference.easteco.org/ and fill out the registration form.