Launch of UNESCO Science Report 2010 in Nairobi
The UNESCO Science Report 2010 was launched in Nairobi on 24 February 2011 by UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Science in Africa. The invited guests included the Hon. Prof. Helen Sambili, Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Crispus Kiamba and Prof. Harry Kaane from the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Prof. David Some, Chairman of the National Council for Science Technology, Prof. Abdulrazak Shaukat, Secretary of the National Council for Science and Technology, Prof. Gretchen Kalonji, Assistant Director-General for Natural Science, Prof. Joseph Massaquoi, Director of the UNESCO Nairobi Office and Dr Kevin Urama, one of the four authors of the chapter in the report on sub-Saharan Africa.
On taking the floor, the Hon. Prof. Helen Sambili, Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, congratulated UNESCO on the report. ‘We applaud UNESCO for the Science Report, which analyses the trends and developments that have shaped scientific research, innovation and higher education, over the past five years including the impact of the current global recession’, she said. She went on to say that ‘regrettably most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are still spending far much below the minimum requirement of 1% of GDP on R&D. Only South Africa is close to the mark with R&D of about 0.9%. For us in Kenya, the expenditure on R&D is estimated to be about 0.3%. This low expenditure on R&D calls for innovative resource mobilization strategies if Kenya is to successful implement the STI related programmes and activities as articulated in the Medium Term Plan of the Vision 2030 which is now its fourth year of implementation’. She concluded by saying that ‘the report is a useful tool for redefining several policy agenda at national, regional and global levels. As a country we shall endeavor to address some of the gaps pointed out by the report and implement some of the recommendations made therein’.
Prof. Shaukat Abdulrazak, Secretary and CEO of the National Council for Science and Technology, likewise congratulated UNESCO on the report. He stated that ‘the findings of this report will provide a basis for benchmarking, reflection and review of science, technology and innovation policies in Kenya’. He explained that the National Council for Science and Technology had identified a number of key areas for the period 2009-2013 within its strategic plan: strengthening technical capacities and capabilities; developing a highly skilled human resource base; intensification of innovation in priority areas; enhancing STI awareness; strengthening the STI performance management framework; and resource mobilization. Within these strategic areas, the council was implementing several activities, including the administration of the Kenya Government Science, Technology and Innovation Grant, which supports research and innovation in priority areas in relation to Vision 2030. In 2008 and 2009, he said, the research grant had supported 152 research projects, 15 women scientists and researchers, 109 postgraduate researchers and eight young innovators, among other beneficiaries. ’Despite the achievements made, the following challenges remain’, he said, ‘the absence of a National Research Policy; low funding to science, technology and innovation and R&D which is less than 0.5% of GDP; brain drain versus brain gain and a weak link between research and the industrial sector, among others’.
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In terms of media coverage, the launch was covered by local television stations KBC TV K24 TV, as well as by some FM radio stations. The story was also reported by leading Kenyan newspapers, including Daily Nation, the Standard and Star. Journalists from Xhinua News, Education News, Kenya Today, a government newspaper and News Africa were all present at the launch, among others,
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