ATPS Calls for Strengthening of National Systems of Innovation for Poverty Alleviation
Nairobi; May 7, 2010: ATPS Executive Director, Dr Kevin Urama has called for strategic collaboration and interaction amongst key actors in strengthened National Systems of Innovation (NSI); these actors include policy-makers, science experts, private sector actors and the civil society in Africa. “Multi-lateral collaboration breeds innovation, while binomial relationships lead to knowledge dependence.” He made these remarks yesterday during the ongoing conference on “Harnessing Science Technology and Innovation (STI) for National Development” where he was invited to give a key note paper.
His paper, which was titled “Science, Technology and Innovation, and poverty alleviation in Africa,” highlighted the need for countries to develop strong National Systems of Innovation through sustained and collaborative partnerships amongst key institutions.
“National Systems of Innovation are needed now more than ever. Africa needs to embrace and nurture the elements and relationships, which interact in the production, diffusion and use of new and economically useful knowledge, if we are to tackle poverty and make significant progress towards sustainable development. What Africa lacks, is neither the resources nor the technological capacity to achieve development, but the visionary leadership and the political will to implement transformational development polices. We must promote an enabling policy environment for indigenous capacity building in STI, as well as an innovation-friendly culture in Africa,” he added.
Giving the example of Nigeria’s NSI, Dr Urama described various concepts underpinning the NSI and the complex set of relationships that need to be forged within the network of public and private sector institutions whose activities initiate, import, modify and diffuse new technologies. He said that the Nigerian model can be up-scaled and adapted in other African countries based on their unique priorities.
He however emphasized the importance of each country learning from its own realities to inform its own STI development trajectory; this is because innovation systems for different countries are heterogeneous. “In Africa’s complex realities, unidirectional efforts to address Africa’s multi-faceted development challenges are not practical and a ‘one size fits all’ approach is bound to fail,” he said.
The week-long conference organized by Kenya’s National Council for Science and Technology (NCST), which concludes today, features academic papers, discussions and demonstrations by local, regional and international experts in innovation systems. The conference also features an exhibition displaying various innovations by young brains in Kenya. One of the key challenges faced by young innovators in the country is their inability to individually launch their creations into the market. This calls for a review of the country’s science and technology policies and the development of a supportive National System of Innovation that will create a conducive ecosystem for their innovations to thrive.
A team which included Dr Peter Ndemere, the Executive secretary of Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST); Dr Nicholas Nyange the Executive secretary of Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) and delegates from UK (Prof E. R. Orskov) and Japan (Prof Tsutomu Fujihara) later paid a courtesy call to the office of NCST-Kenya’s Executive Secretary, Prof Shaukat Abdulrazak who is also a member of the ATPS Board of Directors.
Posted on Thursday 22nd July, 2010