2012 ATPS Annual Conference Blog

EMERGING PARADIGMS, TECHNOLOGIES AND INNOVATIONS FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: GLOBAL IMPERATIVES AND AFRICAN REALITIES

Emerging Paradigms, Technologies and Innovations for Sustainable Development: Global Imperatives And African Realities

The quadruple challenges of imploding economies, deepening and widening poverty, climate change, and disappearing environmental assets (natural resources and biodiversity) around the world necessitate a careful rethinking of knowledge platforms and development pathways at global, continental and national scales. With the recent global financial crisis and deepening social and environmental crisis in the past decade, science experts and policymakers alike are united in the search for alternative development paradigms. Major global policy support institutions such as the World Bank (WB), the United Nations (UN), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) amongst others, now sing the same song “there is need for new paradigms and pathways for economic growth that is inclusive of social and environmental sustainability”.

A recent report launched by the World Bank (2012) aptly concludes that, “inclusive green growth is necessary, efficient and affordable,…, the search for solutions needs to shift from the search for more financial resources, to “getting smart”. In the same vein, the recent Global Green Growth Summit held in South Korea, re-echoed the collective voice of global leaders that “technological innovations will be central to the creation of a new and more sustainable development paradigm”. Many global assessments and reports now converge in the conclusion that having the right kind of science, technologies and innovations is at the heart of sustainable development (UNESCO, 2010, UNEP 2011, UNDP 2012, UNCTAD 2012, World Bank 2012). Be it the first and second carbon intensive industrial revolutions which are now foundering or the third industrial revolution which is now evolving under different nomenclatures (Green Economy, Green Growth, Inclusive Growth, Climate Resilient Economy, Low Carbon Economy, etc.), STI has remained the constant driver of productivity and efficiency gains in economic development history.

In June 2012, world leaders, the academia, the private sector actors and the civil society convened in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil under the auspices of the United NationsUN Conference on Sustainable Development. Reconnaissance surveys in Africa suggested that 20 years after the first Rio conference, stakeholders’ expected more proactive and practical actions in addressing poverty, hunger, energy access, energy security, efficient and sustainable resource use and ecosystem management, improved agricultural value chain management, etc. The general feeling amongst policymakers and policy analysts consulted was that the global governance architectures be it in the socio-political, economic or environmental realms still leaves Africa disadvantaged in many ways. This is largely due to lack of political will to implement negotiated agreements and international commitments; global mechanisms and institutions that favour binomial relationships between the global north and the global south with knowledge, technologies and innovations predominantly flowing from the former to the latter; and general inequities in the distribution of skills and capacities for innovation and wealth creation. The Ministers of African States have therefore aptly noted that the critical foundation for sustainable development must include more inclusive global governance; strong and responsive pro-poor institutions for wealth creation, social equity and equality; poverty eradication and environmental sustainability, as well as sustained progress in the achievement of internationally agreed commitments including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). They called on Rio+20 to reinvigorate political will and international commitment to implementing the goals and ideals of sustainable development and urged developed countries to proactively fulfil previous commitments and pledges to help Africa’s efforts to achieve sustainable development.

The optimism that the Rio+20 conference outcomes was were expected to deliver greater global commitment to sustainable development and encourage countries of the global north to step up development assistance to African countries was well placed. However, a pragmatic assessment of global development trends and resource potentials suggest Africa is on the move (UNDP 2012), and the technical resource and productivity potentials for green growth is substantial. Huge opportunities therefore exist for home grown development on the continent, but the STI capacities of the African countries to effectively participate in harnessing these comparative advantages remain dismal (Urama et al., 2010). Though Africa’s scientific capacities and Gross Domestic Products (GDP) growth have improved during the past decade, technological and innovation capacities remain low and the requisite institutional and governance infrastructures are only just emerging (Urama et al., 2010; UNESCO 2010, UNDP 2012). Whereas there are pockets of success in application of STI including the mobile telephony and telecommunications, among other factors, which contributed to the sustained economic growth in the continent during the past decade, the continent generally lags behind in skills and competencies required to fully reap the benefits afforded by STI for its development. This can be attributed to many factors, but key amongst these are the lack of skills and capacities in the area of STI to guide and foster an African development agenda, inadequate implementation of STI policies and programmes, and limited political commitment.

It is expected that as the world “gets smarter”, transitions away from hydro-carbonated industries and natural resource intensive economies will be imperative. Continued reliance on cheap exports of primary resources will not only be environmentally unsustainable and economically inefficient, but also socially unacceptable. Building STI capacities, knowledge systems and structures, knowledge circulation and networks, and effective valorization of STI knowledge will therefore be the bedrock for sustainability of nations in the coming decades.

Africa cannot afford to remain recluse of the emerging global realities and social, economic and environmental challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, deepening water stress, energy price hikes, etc.; neither should she remain a global consumer of knowledge, technologies and innovations in the new global economy, the architecture of which is emerging today. The first Africa Forum on STI hosted by the Republic of Kenya from 1-3 April 2012 and co-organized by African Development Bank (AfDB), African Union Commission (AUC), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), called for African countries to, among other things, design STI policies and programs to implement strategies to support inclusive growth, employment opportunities, and sustainable development in Africa.

The international conference and workshops convened by the African Technology Policy Studies (ATPS) and its partners will reflect on a post-Rio+20 futures for Africa. To make good global commitments to sustainable development in Africa, we believe that African countries would need strategic transformative reforms in its knowledge structures (from mono-disciplinary certificate education to trans-disciplinary systems studies, entrepreneurship and innovation capacity development); institutions and governance structures (from neo-colonial knowledge dependence to governance structures that are fully embedded in Africa’s socio-political, economic and cultural realities); Agricultural systems research and policy (from focus on incremental productivity enhancing measures to value chain approaches and technologies that may enhance quantum leaps in value addition including on-farm factor productivity improvements, enhanced shelf life and market value of agricultural products); knowledge circulation and networks (to enhance intra-African knowledge flows and networks), and development pathways to enhance transitions towards poverty reduction and wealth creation for inclusive green growth and development on the continent.

Discussion Questions:

  1. As during the previous development eras, Africa has huge comparative advantages in natural capital and renewable energy resources that are the bedrocks for green growth. The scramble for resources in Africa during the previous industrial development eras has little dividends for development on the continent. What must Africa do differently now to ensure proper beneficiation from its natural resources to deliver more inclusive growth on the continent?
  2. Technology enthusiasts argue that unless Africa builds endogenous capacities in science, technology and innovations, it would remain an appendage in the global economy, be it “brown” or “green” growth pathways that are pursued. On the other hand, “globalisation enthusiasts” believe the technology transfers from the global north and increasingly China would help Africa to leap frog the development process, avoiding the huge costs of building required knowledge infrastructures which are obviously expensive. Which way should Africa go and how best should it seek to achieve the transition from where it is now, and where it should go?
  3. Much of the science, technology and innovation efforts in Africa as well as the thinking on green growth strategies are spearheaded and funded by development partners. Only few countries in Africa invest close to 1% of its GDP on research and development efforts. Can Africa take the lead in its development efforts without proactive endogenous investments in science, technology and innovations? What must African governments do to reverse the trend?
  4. African Universities and Colleges of tertiary education have now come of age. However, research evidence show that most of them lack the required funding and skill base to be competitive in the global knowledge market.  Global rankings of Universities therefore seldom list African Universities, except a few. What could be done to make African Universities more competitive globally and relevant to sustainable development in Africa?
  5. One of the great assets of Africa is its youthfulness. However, African youths and women and seldom engaged the development process. With high youth unemployment rates and sub-optimal involvement of African youths and women in the African development policy planning and implementation, this great asset is increasingly becoming a ticking time bomb in many African countries. Youth and Women fora initiated in Africa the African Youth Forum for STI (AYFST), and the African Women Forum for STI (AWFST), often struggle to receive financial support from African governments. What could African governments do to optimally engage its youth and women meaningfully in its development struggle?
  6. What roles do you see pan-African institutions whose mandate is to strengthen Africa’s STI capacity for sustainable development play in the transitioning process. What relationships should exist between such institutions and Apex policy institutions on the continent such as the Africa Union Commission (AUC), the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the sub-Regional Economic Communities, national governments and associated ministries?

Prof. Kevin Chika Urama

Executive Director, ATPS


2012 ATPS Annual Conference Blog

EMERGING PARADIGMS, TECHNOLOGIES AND INNOVATIONS FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: GLOBAL IMPERATIVES AND AFRICAN REALITIES

Emerging Paradigms, Technologies and Innovations for Sustainable Development: Global Imperatives And African Realities

The quadruple challenges of imploding economies, deepening and widening poverty, climate change, and disappearing environmental assets (natural resources and biodiversity) around the world necessitate a careful rethinking of knowledge platforms and development pathways at global, continental and national scales. With the recent global financial crisis and deepening social and environmental crisis in the past decade, science experts and policymakers alike are united in the search for alternative development paradigms. Major global policy support institutions such as the World Bank (WB), the United Nations (UN), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) amongst others, now sing the same song “there is need for new paradigms and pathways for economic growth that is inclusive of social and environmental sustainability”.

A recent report launched by the World Bank (2012) aptly concludes that, “inclusive green growth is necessary, efficient and affordable,…, the search for solutions needs to shift from the search for more financial resources, to “getting smart”. In the same vein, the recent Global Green Growth Summit held in South Korea, re-echoed the collective voice of global leaders that “technological innovations will be central to the creation of a new and more sustainable development paradigm”. Many global assessments and reports now converge in the conclusion that having the right kind of science, technologies and innovations is at the heart of sustainable development (UNESCO, 2010, UNEP 2011, UNDP 2012, UNCTAD 2012, World Bank 2012). Be it the first and second carbon intensive industrial revolutions which are now foundering or the third industrial revolution which is now evolving under different nomenclatures (Green Economy, Green Growth, Inclusive Growth, Climate Resilient Economy, Low Carbon Economy, etc.), STI has remained the constant driver of productivity and efficiency gains in economic development history.

In June 2012, world leaders, the academia, the private sector actors and the civil society convened in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil under the auspices of the United NationsUN Conference on Sustainable Development. Reconnaissance surveys in Africa suggested that 20 years after the first Rio conference, stakeholders’ expected more proactive and practical actions in addressing poverty, hunger, energy access, energy security, efficient and sustainable resource use and ecosystem management, improved agricultural value chain management, etc. The general feeling amongst policymakers and policy analysts consulted was that the global governance architectures be it in the socio-political, economic or environmental realms still leaves Africa disadvantaged in many ways. This is largely due to lack of political will to implement negotiated agreements and international commitments; global mechanisms and institutions that favour binomial relationships between the global north and the global south with knowledge, technologies and innovations predominantly flowing from the former to the latter; and general inequities in the distribution of skills and capacities for innovation and wealth creation. The Ministers of African States have therefore aptly noted that the critical foundation for sustainable development must include more inclusive global governance; strong and responsive pro-poor institutions for wealth creation, social equity and equality; poverty eradication and environmental sustainability, as well as sustained progress in the achievement of internationally agreed commitments including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). They called on Rio+20 to reinvigorate political will and international commitment to implementing the goals and ideals of sustainable development and urged developed countries to proactively fulfil previous commitments and pledges to help Africa’s efforts to achieve sustainable development.

The optimism that the Rio+20 conference outcomes was were expected to deliver greater global commitment to sustainable development and encourage countries of the global north to step up development assistance to African countries was well placed. However, a pragmatic assessment of global development trends and resource potentials suggest Africa is on the move (UNDP 2012), and the technical resource and productivity potentials for green growth is substantial. Huge opportunities therefore exist for home grown development on the continent, but the STI capacities of the African countries to effectively participate in harnessing these comparative advantages remain dismal (Urama et al., 2010). Though Africa’s scientific capacities and Gross Domestic Products (GDP) growth have improved during the past decade, technological and innovation capacities remain low and the requisite institutional and governance infrastructures are only just emerging (Urama et al., 2010; UNESCO 2010, UNDP 2012). Whereas there are pockets of success in application of STI including the mobile telephony and telecommunications, among other factors, which contributed to the sustained economic growth in the continent during the past decade, the continent generally lags behind in skills and competencies required to fully reap the benefits afforded by STI for its development. This can be attributed to many factors, but key amongst these are the lack of skills and capacities in the area of STI to guide and foster an African development agenda, inadequate implementation of STI policies and programmes, and limited political commitment.

It is expected that as the world “gets smarter”, transitions away from hydro-carbonated industries and natural resource intensive economies will be imperative. Continued reliance on cheap exports of primary resources will not only be environmentally unsustainable and economically inefficient, but also socially unacceptable. Building STI capacities, knowledge systems and structures, knowledge circulation and networks, and effective valorization of STI knowledge will therefore be the bedrock for sustainability of nations in the coming decades.

Africa cannot afford to remain recluse of the emerging global realities and social, economic and environmental challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, deepening water stress, energy price hikes, etc.; neither should she remain a global consumer of knowledge, technologies and innovations in the new global economy, the architecture of which is emerging today. The first Africa Forum on STI hosted by the Republic of Kenya from 1-3 April 2012 and co-organized by African Development Bank (AfDB), African Union Commission (AUC), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), called for African countries to, among other things, design STI policies and programs to implement strategies to support inclusive growth, employment opportunities, and sustainable development in Africa.

The international conference and workshops convened by the African Technology Policy Studies (ATPS) and its partners will reflect on a post-Rio+20 futures for Africa. To make good global commitments to sustainable development in Africa, we believe that African countries would need strategic transformative reforms in its knowledge structures (from mono-disciplinary certificate education to trans-disciplinary systems studies, entrepreneurship and innovation capacity development); institutions and governance structures (from neo-colonial knowledge dependence to governance structures that are fully embedded in Africa’s socio-political, economic and cultural realities); Agricultural systems research and policy (from focus on incremental productivity enhancing measures to value chain approaches and technologies that may enhance quantum leaps in value addition including on-farm factor productivity improvements, enhanced shelf life and market value of agricultural products); knowledge circulation and networks (to enhance intra-African knowledge flows and networks), and development pathways to enhance transitions towards poverty reduction and wealth creation for inclusive green growth and development on the continent.

Discussion Questions:

  1. As during the previous development eras, Africa has huge comparative advantages in natural capital and renewable energy resources that are the bedrocks for green growth. The scramble for resources in Africa during the previous industrial development eras has little dividends for development on the continent. What must Africa do differently now to ensure proper beneficiation from its natural resources to deliver more inclusive growth on the continent?
  2. Technology enthusiasts argue that unless Africa builds endogenous capacities in science, technology and innovations, it would remain an appendage in the global economy, be it “brown” or “green” growth pathways that are pursued. On the other hand, “globalisation enthusiasts” believe the technology transfers from the global north and increasingly China would help Africa to leap frog the development process, avoiding the huge costs of building required knowledge infrastructures which are obviously expensive. Which way should Africa go and how best should it seek to achieve the transition from where it is now, and where it should go?
  3. Much of the science, technology and innovation efforts in Africa as well as the thinking on green growth strategies are spearheaded and funded by development partners. Only few countries in Africa invest close to 1% of its GDP on research and development efforts. Can Africa take the lead in its development efforts without proactive endogenous investments in science, technology and innovations? What must African governments do to reverse the trend?
  4. African Universities and Colleges of tertiary education have now come of age. However, research evidence show that most of them lack the required funding and skill base to be competitive in the global knowledge market.  Global rankings of Universities therefore seldom list African Universities, except a few. What could be done to make African Universities more competitive globally and relevant to sustainable development in Africa?
  5. One of the great assets of Africa is its youthfulness. However, African youths and women and seldom engaged the development process. With high youth unemployment rates and sub-optimal involvement of African youths and women in the African development policy planning and implementation, this great asset is increasingly becoming a ticking time bomb in many African countries. Youth and Women fora initiated in Africa the African Youth Forum for STI (AYFST), and the African Women Forum for STI (AWFST), often struggle to receive financial support from African governments. What could African governments do to optimally engage its youth and women meaningfully in its development struggle?
  6. What roles do you see pan-African institutions whose mandate is to strengthen Africa’s STI capacity for sustainable development play in the transitioning process. What relationships should exist between such institutions and Apex policy institutions on the continent such as the Africa Union Commission (AUC), the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the sub-Regional Economic Communities, national governments and associated ministries?

Prof. Kevin Chika Urama

Executive Director, ATPS


Food security in an urbanising society

Disclaimer:  The information and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the ATPS Network.

Posted on 14th December, 2016by Mrs. Manon Lent

Today already more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2050 this will be risen to two-thirds. The continuous increase of urban population is due to factors like rural-urban migration, natural disasters or livelihood insecurities. Providing food and nutrition security for the rapidly expanding populations in the world’s cities is a pressing challenge in this changing world. Delivering nutritious food to cities is a complex problem that is also challenged by natural resource scarcity, climate change, and population growth, which affect food systems globally.

Course objectives
1. Participants get well acquainted with the framework of city region food systems in relation to food and nutrition security in densely populated areas.
2. Participants are able to use the concepts of city region food systems to analyse urban food and nutrition security issues
3. Participants are able to use different designs, methods and approaches, and their interrelationships, in planning for food and nutrition security in urbanizing societies.

Target audience

The course is open to international participants and to MSc students of Wageningen University, preferably active in one of the following fields: rural/urban/spatial planning, agribusiness development, rural/urban livelihood governance, food and nutrition security and sustainable development. Several years of professional work experience and at least a BSc level are additional assets. Proficiency in English is a must.

Practical information:
Course date: 04 – 15 September 2017
deadline: 24 July 2017
Fellowship deadline NFP/MENA: 21 March 2017
Location: the Netherlands

For more information and online registration please visit our website: http://www.wur.nl/en/Expertise-Services/Research-Institutes/centre-for-development-innovation/short-courses/Short-courses-2017/CDIcourse_food_security_urbanizing_society_2017.htm


International course on climate change adaption in food security and natural resource management

Disclaimer:  The information and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the ATPS Network.

Posted on 25th May, 2016by Mrs. Manon Lent

Climatechange in sustainable development
Every year it becomes clearer that climate change is happening at a rapidpace and that it will have a profound impact on agriculture and management ofnatural resources. Without appropriate responses, climate change is likely toconstrain economic development and poverty reduction efforts.

Become involved with climate-smartstrategies
Climate change is again‘hot’ in public and political debate. Waves of attention seem to have relationwith what is happening in international climate negotiations. The upcomingParis UNFCCC Conference of Parties triggers much reaction from policymakers,NGOs and the private sector. But was have these negotiations to do with localproblems and initiatives for climate change adaptation? The focus of thiscourse is the translation of policy documents and research into climate-smartadaptation strategies. And about what you and your organisation can undertakeyourself for adaptation to climate change. Participants with an interest totake climate change adaptation further than the paper these policies arewritten on, are encouraged to apply. The training approach is interactive, withplenary and group work, study assignments, and a personnel action plan.

Course objectives

  1. Participants of this course will have full understanding of climate change adaptation concepts;
  2. They are able to effectively and meaningfully contribute to the debate on climate change adaptation, either in the policy process and/or in providing knowledge to the policy process.
  3. They will strengthen their positions in these processes on the basis of newly acquired concepts, skills and methodologies.

What themes will be covered in the course?

  • understanding climate change (concepts such as adaptation and mitigation, causes and risks) and implications for food security, agriculture and natural resource management;
  • concepts and assessment of vulnerability, resilience, coping strategies and sustainable development processes;
  • climate smart agriculture and natural resource management;
  • examples of adaptation strategies to climate change;
  • policy making processes, advocacy and integrating climate change issues into existing policy processes and rural development strategies.

Target audience
Applicants should have arelevant tertiary education, and at least three years of professionalexperience in a relevant field like policy development in agriculture, naturalresource management or sustainable development. Competence in the Englishlanguage is required.

 

NFP Fellowships
Nuffic has a limited number of fellowshipsavailable for nationals of certain countries
After you completed your registration for thiscourse, and you are eligible for NFP funding, you will receive anadmission letter with further instructions on the NFP application procedure.
Applications for NFP fellowships should be submitted online via the ATLASapplication form between 31 May and 19 July 2016. The linkand further instructions are given in the NFP admission letter.
For the latest information on NFP please check: https://www.studyinholland.nl/scholarships/highlighted-scholarships/netherlands-fellowship-programmes/netherlands-fellowship-programmes-nfp

Practical information

Course date: 30 January – 10 February 2017
Fellowship deadline:  19 July 2016
Deadline alternative funding: 19 December 2016
Location: Uganda

For more information and online registration please visitour website:  http://www.wageningenur.nl/en/Expertise-Services/Research-Institutes/centre-for-development-innovation/short-courses/Shortcourses2017/CDIcourse_climate_change_adaptation_2017.htm


smart home

Disclaimer:  The information and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the ATPS Network.

Posted on 13th January, 2014by Mr. samer aldurzi

www.regional.com.sa

www.rppit.com

thank you all smart your home to save your home we are a partner with you well help all to make your home a smart home


ST&I: Tunisia’s Lifeboat!

Disclaimer:  The information and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the ATPS Network.

Posted on 24th November, 2013by Prof. Jelel Ezzine

Abstract:

This modest contribution comes at a time when Tunisia is trying to find its way to a true democracy, equitable growth and dignity for its people.Youth joblessness in general and the unemployment of university degree holders in particular, were the main fuel of the Jasmine Revolution. Unless the true underlying causes are identified, all prescribed solutions, no matter how ingenious they are, won’t produce the collectively desired results. This short document, attempts to show that the key underlying cause, and thus Tunisia’s Achilles’ heel, is the poor structure of its industry. The analytic National Innovation System (NIS) framework is used to tackle this enduring and complex problem. Standard indicators, spanning the main components of the NIS, are used in an attempt to debunk the culprits, and initiate a collective curative process for our ailing society.


UNIVERSITIES IN PURSUIT OF INNOVATIVENESS

Disclaimer:  The information and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the ATPS Network.

Posted on 28th February, 2013by Mr. Onsare Robert

BY ROBERT OKEMWA ONSARE

 

It has come to our realization thatEngineering students alone cannot propel this country to the aspired height ofinnovation, says Dr Kamau Gachigi, the chairman and coordinator of Science andTechnology Park Steering Committee, University of Nairobi, thus we are scoutingfor creative and innovative minds from across the country to blend with engineeringstudents – to catalyze one another – to transform their knowledge into diverseprojects.

It is with this background that theMassachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, idea of FabricationLaboratory (fablab) comes into being. As of now fablab is an international networkthat is being domesticated by the University of Nairobi, School of Engineering,to realise a science and technology park. The park is igniting young peopleinnovativeness and creativity in an exciting way, Gachigi explains.

Another MIT fablab is operating inMajiwa at Bondo district, run by ARO Fablab, an NGO, sponsored by Norad Norway.

At MIT, the brain child of fablab -with a mission to muster a combination of passion and inventiveness, on howstudents can make (almost) anything notwithstanding their course of study.”A sculpture student with no background in engineering made a portablepersonal space for screaming that saves them, replaying later. Another made aweb browser that lets parrots navigate the Net,” says Prof NeilGershenfield, a MIT physicist and a computer scientist, who is among chiefproponents of fablab.

Apart from lectures on how to make(almost) anything – that will be shared, transmitted via satellite across the35 countries around the world – where Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa are thefirst beneficiaries in Africa. “The students will access unique equipmentswhich are appropriate and very expensive,” says Gachigi.

The Ministry of Higher Educationwill be providing other necessary materials and facilities as need and timewill command. Aspiring innovators will also benefit from the nationalpublic-private endowment fund to facilitate research in science, technology,and innovation. Yes, Kenya National Council of Science and Technology is out tohelp upcoming scientist to improve on their innovations as well market to theprivate sector through grants to enable them scale prototypes into final marketoriented products.

“For innovative ideas to betranslated to end products, financial back up is essential,” says Prof ShemWandiga, the director for the Centre for Science and Technology Innovation,Kenya, “the Ministry of Higher Education is toying with the idea of scoutinginnate-innovative-talents across the country to nurture them into maturity.”

Wandiga says that Kenya has hadinnovators who drown into the tides of time from lack of motivation,institutional and financial support, their works not patented, and poverty thatcompels them to seek jobs in companies that exploit them with a peanut pay.

Students need to be given access andmeans to solve their contextual problems, inventively, says Gershenfield, thistouches something very, very deep – somehow it goes back to nest-building ormastering their own environment.

There is sort of this deep thinginside that most people don’t express that comes tumbling out when they getaccess to MIT fablab tools,” he says.

 

 

A strong base for sciences andmathematics is very vital to extract great applied scientist, points out ProfJesse Role, chairman, department of technology, University of Eastern Africa,Baraton (UEAB); adding  that creativethinking should be blended in our learning process from primary schools touniversity.

 

 

Prof Role who is an electronicscommunication engineer points out the necessity of indentifying studentsabilities from a tender age thus exposing them in what they are good at both interms of subjects and even toys since innovation is self driven.

 

 

He points out the importance ofrealizing that innovation is self driven by the needs of the people. Hence,identifying the Kenyan needs to be met against the available resources is vital.

 

 

The Kenyan government needs tomagnetize international companies which will in return provide learningequipment to institution of higher learning as they are doing in many countriesacross the world because those who are trained will be absorbed by the samecompanies, the don says.

 

 

He further recommends the Kenyangovernment needs to undertake industrial zoning – that is building industriesclose to relevant training institutions – which will enable students to have afirsthand exposure – which will lead them to question the kind of improvementthey can afford.

 

 

Students need to realize that theirdivergent disciplines of study should not be an hindrance to invention orinnovativeness, says Arsenio Poblete, a mathematics lecture at UEAB, who dubsup as a design artist, innovation is an inner will to create something that canbe an answer to a prevailing problem or coming up with means of improving onexisting device.

The don says that innovation is notcontained in building far reaching projects/devices but “simple” devices thatcan be of help to a given people. “Thus,” Poblete says, “inventors andinnovators are those minds capable of harmonizing a wide range of principles,from vast disciplines; languages, arts, social sciences, mathematics, puresciences, engineering and technology.”

 

 

For Joshua Adegun, a technology donat UEAB says that the greatest tragedy that befalls life of students as theyadvance with their academic pursuit is the fading away of childhood curiosity –the drive to ask, observe, try, and make things with available materials whichis a great ingredients towards invention and innovativeness.

Prof Kaburu M’rubu, the VC of GretsaUniversity, Thika, laments that for long we have been depending on other peopleinnovations which have reduced us to mitumba (second – hand) technologyadaptors, adding: “Innovation can however make us technology donors. And thoughtechnology requires resources, it actually begins in the mind.”

The science and technology park atthe University of Nairobi will design an infrastructure for research ideas,says Gachigi, will be conceptualized, experimented, build to end products inthe school of engineering laboratory, and market the devices. “The rapidprototyping facility will be used as an innovation centre for universitystudents, lecturers and the general public.”

“We are a centre of incubation,”says the mechanical engineering lecture, “we already have more than sevenoperational companies, Tekno International and BWANA Industries, among them,springing out of innovativeness to meet the people’s needs while creating jobopportunities.”

However, African schools have aproblem in focusing so heavily on theory, says Dr Ave Kludze, a Ghana scientistat National Astronautical Science Agency (NASA), whereas they are expected tofocus heavily on practical – solving real problems at the university.

“If we can bring that practicalelement into African schools,” says Kludze, who was a system engineer indeveloping Calipso Satellite that was launched in 2006, “we have a lot ofbrilliant young minds who will benefit.”

The University of Nairobi, MIT fablab, engineering students, have formed a highschool outreach program with a mission of popularizing engineering, encouragingsecondary school students to pursue applied sciences, technology and engineeringas a mean towards Kenya’s vision, to be industrialized by 2030.


What will correct Africa’s socio-economic fails?

Disclaimer:  The information and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the ATPS Network.

Posted on 18th February, 2013by Ms. Sarah Wakasa

By Sarah Wakasa

Numerous challenges stand in the way of Africa’s ambition, one might lax, stuck amidst this tangles of economic and social fails that have crippled progress.

Why do we fail and wander aimlessly unable to feed our children and yet countries with a fraction of the resources we boast of manage to become first class nations amidst the worst of economic crises?

More than 218 million people live in extreme poverty. Poverty has made the continent writhe in other opportunistic fiends like climate change yet its economies rely on climate-dependent sectors such as water-fed agriculture, and its coping capacities are weak.

What’s worse – when breaks like HIV/AIDS, corruption, conflict and wars keep stagnating this fight against poverty.

So has money set us apart? Yes the lack of it at least – Undoubtedly, poverty has put an unbearable strain on Africa.

While noting Africa’s maladies, it would be dispiriting not to mention the improvement in telecom innovation that has broadly improved the quality of life across sub-Saharan Africa.

There has been an increase in African countries that are increasingly embracing technology as a driver of development, e.g. Kenya’s Vision 2030 and Rwanda’s rapid ICT growth.  Despite sub-Saharan Africa’s impressive economic performance over the past decade, which has resulted in marginal poverty reduction, her way to economic liberation is still beset with thorny issues that need a massive and quick clean up!

Africa is still aloof, missing out on technologies and innovations chances that have seen other regions massively reaping gains.

And in the face of this, we still do not see much allegiance by parliamentarians in investing in research institutions and efforts towards innovation and entrepreneurship.

The latest world University ranking demonstrates this as only three universities in Africa, all in South Africa, made it to the top 400 in the 2012/2013 Reuters/Times Higher Education.

Countries are making a kill from technology and innovation, yet what we see in our backyards are continuous ranting about political supremacy rather than issue-based politics, a distraction to the public and an amusement backed by our media.

Africa, a great consumer of technological knowledge from other region’s innovations still falters behind, lacking aggressive policies and commitment to build its own capacities.

“Without aggressive policies and commitment to build endogenous capacities on the continent, Africa will remain a knowledge consumer not a knowledge producer in the third industrial revolution,” said Prof. Kevin Urama, of the Executive Director of the Africa Technology Policy Studies (ATPS).

In order to change this, we need a serious reform of our priorities to those that would fast pace our economic issues. What better way than promoting policies that would boost business science, research, agricultural productivity, for example?

Our governments need to encourage its in-house initiatives aiming at transforming Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) knowledge structures. Initiatives like tech hubs need to be supported by governments and the private-sector. We need to buzz up these young African talents and the works to increase the competitive impact they aim.

We need to need to tap into the private sector; continual handouts will not liberate us. We need to elect leaders that will cultivate an entrepreneur-friendly environment. An atmosphere where entrepreneurs can foster their small and medium–size sized companies, where easier access to capital needs are made possible.

The irony is that most of our nations have now clocked the 50 year mark of independence, yet we are trapped in the over-reliance of hand-outs. Crippled with widespread corruption that is costly and a derailment to development and augmented socio-economic disparities.

Our problems may seem complex but one sure thing is that innovation and entrepreneurship are comebacks to sustainably set us on a competitive globally edge.

(The information and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the ATPS Network).

 


UNIVERSITIES IN PURSUIT OF INNOVATIVENESS

Disclaimer:  The information and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the ATPS Network.

Posted on 28th February, 2013by Mr. Onsare Robert

BY ROBERT OKEMWA ONSARE

 

It has come to our realization thatEngineering students alone cannot propel this country to the aspired height ofinnovation, says Dr Kamau Gachigi, the chairman and coordinator of Science andTechnology Park Steering Committee, University of Nairobi, thus we are scoutingfor creative and innovative minds from across the country to blend with engineeringstudents – to catalyze one another – to transform their knowledge into diverseprojects.

It is with this background that theMassachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, idea of FabricationLaboratory (fablab) comes into being. As of now fablab is an international networkthat is being domesticated by the University of Nairobi, School of Engineering,to realise a science and technology park. The park is igniting young peopleinnovativeness and creativity in an exciting way, Gachigi explains.

Another MIT fablab is operating inMajiwa at Bondo district, run by ARO Fablab, an NGO, sponsored by Norad Norway.

At MIT, the brain child of fablab -with a mission to muster a combination of passion and inventiveness, on howstudents can make (almost) anything notwithstanding their course of study.”A sculpture student with no background in engineering made a portablepersonal space for screaming that saves them, replaying later. Another made aweb browser that lets parrots navigate the Net,” says Prof NeilGershenfield, a MIT physicist and a computer scientist, who is among chiefproponents of fablab.

Apart from lectures on how to make(almost) anything – that will be shared, transmitted via satellite across the35 countries around the world – where Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa are thefirst beneficiaries in Africa. “The students will access unique equipmentswhich are appropriate and very expensive,” says Gachigi.

The Ministry of Higher Educationwill be providing other necessary materials and facilities as need and timewill command. Aspiring innovators will also benefit from the nationalpublic-private endowment fund to facilitate research in science, technology,and innovation. Yes, Kenya National Council of Science and Technology is out tohelp upcoming scientist to improve on their innovations as well market to theprivate sector through grants to enable them scale prototypes into final marketoriented products.

“For innovative ideas to betranslated to end products, financial back up is essential,” says Prof ShemWandiga, the director for the Centre for Science and Technology Innovation,Kenya, “the Ministry of Higher Education is toying with the idea of scoutinginnate-innovative-talents across the country to nurture them into maturity.”

Wandiga says that Kenya has hadinnovators who drown into the tides of time from lack of motivation,institutional and financial support, their works not patented, and poverty thatcompels them to seek jobs in companies that exploit them with a peanut pay.

Students need to be given access andmeans to solve their contextual problems, inventively, says Gershenfield, thistouches something very, very deep – somehow it goes back to nest-building ormastering their own environment.

There is sort of this deep thinginside that most people don’t express that comes tumbling out when they getaccess to MIT fablab tools,” he says.

 

 

A strong base for sciences andmathematics is very vital to extract great applied scientist, points out ProfJesse Role, chairman, department of technology, University of Eastern Africa,Baraton (UEAB); adding  that creativethinking should be blended in our learning process from primary schools touniversity.

 

 

Prof Role who is an electronicscommunication engineer points out the necessity of indentifying studentsabilities from a tender age thus exposing them in what they are good at both interms of subjects and even toys since innovation is self driven.

 

 

He points out the importance ofrealizing that innovation is self driven by the needs of the people. Hence,identifying the Kenyan needs to be met against the available resources is vital.

 

 

The Kenyan government needs tomagnetize international companies which will in return provide learningequipment to institution of higher learning as they are doing in many countriesacross the world because those who are trained will be absorbed by the samecompanies, the don says.

 

 

He further recommends the Kenyangovernment needs to undertake industrial zoning – that is building industriesclose to relevant training institutions – which will enable students to have afirsthand exposure – which will lead them to question the kind of improvementthey can afford.

 

 

Students need to realize that theirdivergent disciplines of study should not be an hindrance to invention orinnovativeness, says Arsenio Poblete, a mathematics lecture at UEAB, who dubsup as a design artist, innovation is an inner will to create something that canbe an answer to a prevailing problem or coming up with means of improving onexisting device.

The don says that innovation is notcontained in building far reaching projects/devices but “simple” devices thatcan be of help to a given people. “Thus,” Poblete says, “inventors andinnovators are those minds capable of harmonizing a wide range of principles,from vast disciplines; languages, arts, social sciences, mathematics, puresciences, engineering and technology.”

 

 

For Joshua Adegun, a technology donat UEAB says that the greatest tragedy that befalls life of students as theyadvance with their academic pursuit is the fading away of childhood curiosity –the drive to ask, observe, try, and make things with available materials whichis a great ingredients towards invention and innovativeness.

Prof Kaburu M’rubu, the VC of GretsaUniversity, Thika, laments that for long we have been depending on other peopleinnovations which have reduced us to mitumba (second – hand) technologyadaptors, adding: “Innovation can however make us technology donors. And thoughtechnology requires resources, it actually begins in the mind.”

The science and technology park atthe University of Nairobi will design an infrastructure for research ideas,says Gachigi, will be conceptualized, experimented, build to end products inthe school of engineering laboratory, and market the devices. “The rapidprototyping facility will be used as an innovation centre for universitystudents, lecturers and the general public.”

“We are a centre of incubation,”says the mechanical engineering lecture, “we already have more than sevenoperational companies, Tekno International and BWANA Industries, among them,springing out of innovativeness to meet the people’s needs while creating jobopportunities.”

However, African schools have aproblem in focusing so heavily on theory, says Dr Ave Kludze, a Ghana scientistat National Astronautical Science Agency (NASA), whereas they are expected tofocus heavily on practical – solving real problems at the university.

“If we can bring that practicalelement into African schools,” says Kludze, who was a system engineer indeveloping Calipso Satellite that was launched in 2006, “we have a lot ofbrilliant young minds who will benefit.”

The University of Nairobi, MIT fablab, engineering students, have formed a highschool outreach program with a mission of popularizing engineering, encouragingsecondary school students to pursue applied sciences, technology and engineeringas a mean towards Kenya’s vision, to be industrialized by 2030.


What will correct Africa’s socio-economic fails?

Disclaimer:  The information and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the ATPS Network.

Posted on 18th February, 2013by Ms. Sarah Wakasa

By Sarah Wakasa

Numerous challenges stand in the way of Africa’s ambition, one might lax, stuck amidst this tangles of economic and social fails that have crippled progress.

Why do we fail and wander aimlessly unable to feed our children and yet countries with a fraction of the resources we boast of manage to become first class nations amidst the worst of economic crises?

More than 218 million people live in extreme poverty. Poverty has made the continent writhe in other opportunistic fiends like climate change yet its economies rely on climate-dependent sectors such as water-fed agriculture, and its coping capacities are weak.

What’s worse – when breaks like HIV/AIDS, corruption, conflict and wars keep stagnating this fight against poverty.

So has money set us apart? Yes the lack of it at least – Undoubtedly, poverty has put an unbearable strain on Africa.

While noting Africa’s maladies, it would be dispiriting not to mention the improvement in telecom innovation that has broadly improved the quality of life across sub-Saharan Africa.

There has been an increase in African countries that are increasingly embracing technology as a driver of development, e.g. Kenya’s Vision 2030 and Rwanda’s rapid ICT growth.  Despite sub-Saharan Africa’s impressive economic performance over the past decade, which has resulted in marginal poverty reduction, her way to economic liberation is still beset with thorny issues that need a massive and quick clean up!

Africa is still aloof, missing out on technologies and innovations chances that have seen other regions massively reaping gains.

And in the face of this, we still do not see much allegiance by parliamentarians in investing in research institutions and efforts towards innovation and entrepreneurship.

The latest world University ranking demonstrates this as only three universities in Africa, all in South Africa, made it to the top 400 in the 2012/2013 Reuters/Times Higher Education.

Countries are making a kill from technology and innovation, yet what we see in our backyards are continuous ranting about political supremacy rather than issue-based politics, a distraction to the public and an amusement backed by our media.

Africa, a great consumer of technological knowledge from other region’s innovations still falters behind, lacking aggressive policies and commitment to build its own capacities.

“Without aggressive policies and commitment to build endogenous capacities on the continent, Africa will remain a knowledge consumer not a knowledge producer in the third industrial revolution,” said Prof. Kevin Urama, of the Executive Director of the Africa Technology Policy Studies (ATPS).

In order to change this, we need a serious reform of our priorities to those that would fast pace our economic issues. What better way than promoting policies that would boost business science, research, agricultural productivity, for example?

Our governments need to encourage its in-house initiatives aiming at transforming Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) knowledge structures. Initiatives like tech hubs need to be supported by governments and the private-sector. We need to buzz up these young African talents and the works to increase the competitive impact they aim.

We need to need to tap into the private sector; continual handouts will not liberate us. We need to elect leaders that will cultivate an entrepreneur-friendly environment. An atmosphere where entrepreneurs can foster their small and medium–size sized companies, where easier access to capital needs are made possible.

The irony is that most of our nations have now clocked the 50 year mark of independence, yet we are trapped in the over-reliance of hand-outs. Crippled with widespread corruption that is costly and a derailment to development and augmented socio-economic disparities.

Our problems may seem complex but one sure thing is that innovation and entrepreneurship are comebacks to sustainably set us on a competitive globally edge.

(The information and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the ATPS Network).