WE NEED TO GO MICRO SCIENCE

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

Posted on 12th February, 2013by Mr. Onsare Robert

BY ROBERT OKEMWA ONSARE

 

Technological divide will keep on growing betweendeveloped and developing countries so long as new approaches are not adopted inthe teaching of sciences and mathematics at primary and secondary schools.

 

Most Kenyan secondary schools laboratories are ill-equipped for thestudents to carryout experiments; thus students perceivesciences as dull, theoretical and abstract. They then fail to relate what they are taught withits application inthe real world.

 

Science will remain to be an abstract pursuit tolearners so long as they are not exposed to its real application in dailylives. Technology will never be appropriate if students are not afforded meansof contextualizing it – this should earnestly begin in our laboratories.

 

Indeed it is a challenge to expect overnightsufficient equipmentfor more than 4,000 secondary schools laboratories across the nation – toleap frog science learningfrom its present wanting status. With Kenya’s ambitious vision to beindustrialized by 2030,we need to go micro science using modern technology that is cheap, in thepursuit of chemistry and physics thus most schools can afford facilities.

 

Indeed, physical sciences are the worst hit in mostKenyan schools from lack of access to laboratory facilities, because, biologicalsciences draws most of its practicallearning materials from nature.Micro-sciencecost is reasonable for Sh15,000 you can buy a kit and chemicals for doing experiments for 40students, for awhole year. As-much -as we are stuckin macro-science: learning sciencethroughcurrent mode, facilities is a challenge while the scientific ground has shifted beneath us.

 

We’re in the era of nano measurements, microchips, and milligrams(mg) quantities. However thegreatest challenge in adapting this’ new technology is retraining the teachersin macro-science. We haveto accept that the world is going small and smaller. When students graduate theyare going to usesmall (micro) qualities in their scientific pursuits.

 

Nevertheless all chemistry and physics practicals can bedone by harnessing microchemistry. Huge costs involved in the purchase of bunsen burners, gascylinders andrefilling the cylinders will be history – oil burners energy will be sufficient.This will bridge thegapof lack of facilities, that is prevalent in most schools in Kenya save for nationaland some provincial schools. In learning electricity, electronics, magnetism, semiconductors, solenoidsin physics – micro-physics will become handy.

 

Forscience to play its rightful role as an agent towards industrialization;teachers need to beretrained to appreciate science more than before; be armed withnew methods of disseminatingscience and be horned with newideas onthe evolving technologies.

 

Yes, colleges and universities which are thetraining ground for teachers needs to embrace micro science for their graduatesto understand and appreciate the application of micro science.  It’s a positive to note that our localinstitutions of higher learning are positioning themselves towards electroniclaboratories. Multism and multlab virtual programs are gaining ground intechnical and engineering learning to cite examples. This should be the case inpoint with micro science.

 

The abovenotwithstanding what imprisons the Kenyan learning environment is that we go toschool to secure qualifications that will afford us a job– not necessary forlife.If we were learning for life there will be a more practical approach torealities of life than we are experiencing at the moment. Are our graduatesfrom the different levels of education systems agents of change? scientifically,morally, spiritually or socially? I believe the answer is we have miles tocover.

 

However, if we’re training for job, we need toexpand our job market – attract investors and entrepreneurs who can open up theKenyan industry. Overthe years, job opportunities for science graduates have been dwindling,thus stifling motivation from (earners in schools to pursue pure andapplied sciences with enthusiasm.

 

Kenya needsto invest in cheap sourceof electricity to add value to our raw resources before exporting. For example,process titanium, sodium chloride and coal to their end products. Titanium metal is inhigh demand in aero-industry (making of planes, shuttles, ship), it is with thisbackground that the Kenyan scientific, technological and engineering associationsneed to scale and employ new approaches of promoting scientific uptake towardsa technological convergence that will usher in a practical scientifictransformation in this nation.

 

The above associations have a challenge to muster their acumen to seethat theoretical knowledge impacts the society positively, is transferred tothe industry and research findings are integrated in government policy framework.

 

As scientists, technologist and engineers – we are struggling to see thatwe are part of the answer to the problems that are biting us.

 

For example, during the last water crisis that wewent through as a nation – Pan African Chemistry NetWork (PACN) held aconference at Chiromo Campus, University of Nairobi dubbed as sustainable waterfor development – researchfindings, study cases and researchpapers were shared on how to overcome such a challenge presently and in future.Now the question is: is the report thereof being implemented? Do we havescientist with unrelenting passion on the same? Have Kenyan scientist mustereda diplomatic acumen to win the political leadership support hence channelingthere reports into transformative policies?

 

It is noteworthy that the PACN conference winded upwith a workshop on green chemistry which looked into means of cupping waste andpollution atthe manufacturing level. Are we seeing any impact on the same?

 

It is evident science is one of the basic answer to theprevailing problems we are going through as a nation. Thus we cannot afford to neglect to adoptrelevant and cheap means of disseminating science at primary and secondary school levels; whichare the fortress of future Kenyan scientist Micro-science is the way to go.


Key Messages for the African Union and African Governments

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

Posted on 25th November, 2012by Prof. ATPS Admin

The African leaders and scholars from 29 countries from Africa, Australia, Europe, United States of America, India and Africans in the Diaspora meeting in Addis Ababa for the ATPS internal conference 2012, have observed that

  • Africa has a comparative advantage for transitioning to a low carbon development pathway that is inclusive, sustainable and resource efficient.
  • If supported by endogenous research and capacity building, some emerging technologies and existing sustainable development practices on the African continent can help to improve productivity and resource efficiency for inclusive development in Africa.
  • Social innovations provide opportunities for enhancing economic growth and social prosperity through youth employment, entrepreneurship and value creation.

  • African Universities stand to benefit from the mainstreaming trans-disciplinary research and teaching to overcome the weak collaboration and coordination that exist between disciplines, universities, industry, the public sector and civil society in Africa.
  • African countries are not effectively harnessing the untapped potential of the continent’s bulging youth and women population for development.

Based on these observations, they came up with recommendations for the African Union and African governments including:

  • Africa needs to lead its own dialogue on low carbon development and green growth and proactively invest in the required capacities to ensure African ownership of the inevitable transitioning processes that are unfolding globally.
  • There is a need for a shift towards trans-disciplinary teaching and research approaches to encourage collaboration and networking across disciplines and between universities, the productive sectors and civil society, with special reference to innovation-driven value addition, employment creation and inclusive development strategies.
  • In order to harness the resource potential for productivity improvements in Africa, urgent and significant investments is required in STI education and research to build endogenous capacities for appropriate technology development, diffusion, deployment and regulation.
  • Harnessing the opportunities for social innovations will require a favourable policy environment, incentive structures, innovation incubation, training and mentorship in entrepreneurship.
  • Proactive measures to harness the potentials of the youth and women in STI policymaking and implementation are necessary pre-requisites for achieving the SDGs in Africa.

While closing the conference, Prof. Shaukat Abdulrazak, the chair of the ATPS Board pointed out that African governments and policy makers in education must emphasize demystification of science.

Through this, noted Prof. Abdulrazak, attitude of science can become a culture in Africa.

The executive director Prof. Kevin Urama said that Africans should stop agonizing about problems facing the continent, but rather to start organizing the solution.

He noted that technology innovation is the way out for Africa, noting the innovation in telecommunication like Mpesa technology in Kenya which changing millions of lives in the country.


What Africa must do to Tap STI Potential for African Development?

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

Posted on 25th November, 2012by Prof. ATPS Admin

In order to harness the resource potential for productivity improvement in Africa, urgent and significant investments is required in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) education and research to build indigenous capacities-both human  and institutional- for appropriate technology development, this emerged during the international roundtable and recommendations on emerging paradigms, technology and innovation for sustainable development.

Contributing to what Africa must do to tap STI potential for African development, the panelists called for the need for Africa to lead its own dialogue and proactively invest in the required capacities.

Prof. Shaukat Abdulrazak, the chair of ATPS board noted that it is high time Africa stop giving lip service to STI issue but to start taking appropriate actions including investing one per cent of countries’ GDP to support research.

“There should be deliberate efforts in building human and institutional capacity,” said Prof. Abdulrazak.

He called for continued dialogue between policy makers and scientists to enable STI issues to take roots in Africa.

Demystification of science in the society in areas of biotechnology and nanotechnology is one key item that Prof. Abdulrazak emphasized.

According to Peggy Oti-Boateng, the senior programme specialist for Science and Technology at United Nation Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), more emphasis should be put on the way to conserve water, energy efficiency and making them available to all.

Prof.Turner Isoun, the deputy chair of ATPS board noted that it is important for Africa to access frontline technologies including biotechnology, nanotechnology and nuclear technology to fast track Africa’s development.

He also called on African universities to have reforms in their curriculum and R&D activities to perform and contribute effectively in African development.

“There is need to introduce Information, Communication and Technology into primary, secondary and tertiary to enhance education,” he said.

The panellists called for more action to be taken rather than just talking.


The Conference Kicks off with a Call for New Paradigms and Pathways for Economic Growth

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

Posted on 25th November, 2012by Prof. ATPS Admin

The ATPS 2012 International conference kicked off on high note with key speakers calling new paradigms and pathways for economic growth that is inclusive of social and environmental sustainability.

Speaking during the opening ceremony, Professor Kevin Urama, the Executive Director of the ATPS noted that the quadruple challenges of imploding economies, deepening and widening poverty, climate change, and disappearing environmental assets around the world necessitate a careful re-thinking of knowledge platforms and development pathways at global, continental and national scales.

He noted that in the wake of the recent global financial crisis and deepening social and environmental crisis in the past decade, science experts and policymakers alike are increasingly uniting in the search for alternative development paradigms.

“Technological innovations will be central to the creation of a new and more sustainable development paradigm,” said Prof. Urama.

“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,” he added.

His sentiments were echoed by Prof. Shaukat Abdulrazak, the chair of the ATPS Board, and Chief Executive Officer/Secretary of the Kenya’s National Council for Science and Technology.

Prof. Abdulrazak emphasised the need for Africa to build home-grown technologies and innovations for sustainable development on the continent.

“The continent generally lags behind her peers in skills and competencies required to fully reap the benefits afforded by STI for its development,” said Prof. Abdurazak.

While giving a key note address titled The Fragility of the Recent Africa’s Growth and the Opportunity for Creating Jobs through a New Technology and Industrial Policy, Prof. Osita Ogbu, the director of the Institute for Development Studies based at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka  noted that Africa should not celebrate yet about its recent growth and continued prospects.

He pointed out that Africa’s growth if not driven by a diversified production structure essentially in manufacturing that would deliver quality jobs and raise incomes, would remain trepid, fragile and susceptible to negative shocks.

“Unfortunately, Africa’s initial attempts were not very successful. Rather than re-strategize, Africa and those advising Africa abandoned this strategy completely in spite of its being responsible for the basic industrial structure that currently exist,” he said.

The conference was opened by Dr. Mahama Ouedraogo, Head of Science and Technology Division, African Union Commission (AUC) on behalf of His Excellency, Professor Jean-Pierre Ezin, the Commissioner for Human Resources Services and Technology at the AUC.

The Commissioner emphasized the role of STI in Africa’s development struggle, noting that STI is the key for development in Africa. He re-affirmed the commitment of the AUC to support STI capacity strengthening for Africa development.

The ATPS 2012 annual conference is held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the theme Emerging paradigms, technologies and innovations for sustainable development: global imperatives and African realities which have brought together researchers, academia, policy makers and innovators.


Creating the Critical Mass of Expertise

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

Posted on 21st November, 2012by Prof. ATPS Admin

Africa needs foresight planning to create the critical mass of foundation, vocational technical and secondary skills for growing market demands to respond to emerging needs of Africa, according to Peggy Oti-Boateng, the senior programme specialist for Science and Technology at United Nation Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

And to achieve this, Oti-Boateng calls for a concerted efforts to revamp science, technology and engineering education to make them relevant for employment creation and entrepreneurship.

While addressing the participants at the ongoing ATPS annual conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, she noted that for African countries to compete effectively in the global  markets, they would have to enhance their ability to innovate, harness their human capital and natural resources and  apply the relevant technology for socio-economic development.

She pointed out that Africa has an enormous opportunity to tap into the Africa’s innovative young people.

“The youth present opportunities and we must mobilise their potential by providing educational, scientific and cultural resources that they need for personal development, access to decent jobs and mutual understanding for lasting peace,” said Oti-Boateng.

Apparently, the global youth literacy stands at 90 per cent between 2005 and 2010 indicating that the world will not achieve the target to eradicate illiteracy by 2015.

In her presentation titled Building the critical mass in STI capacity in response to emerging needs of Africa, she observed that skills development is wise investment because it is vital to reduce unemployment, inequity, and poverty and increase economic growth.

Oti-Boateng called for strengthened linkages among the scientist, engineers, policy makers and Society to move STI agenda forward in Africa.

This year’s conference is being held under the theme Emerging paradigms, technologies and innovations for sustainable development: global imperatives and African realities which have brought together researchers, academia, policy makers and innovators.


Alternative Development Strategy Needed in Africa

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

Posted on 21st November, 2012by Prof. ATPS Admin

By George Achia

Africa needs an alternative development strategy that focuses on building developmental capabilities appropriate to the global imperatives of the 21st century, according to the keynote address by Dr. Eric Eboh, the President of Agricultural Policy Research Network.

While delivering a keynote paper titled Institutional Structures, Policies & Macro Economic Environment in African Countries Implications for Social Innovations and Business Competitiveness during the African Technology Policy Studies Network that kicked off today in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Dr. Eboh noted that  an important opportunity will be development anchored through regional cooperation framework aimed at maximizing the benefits of regional ties for the purpose of achieving advantageous country-level integration into global markets.

“The appropriate African Developmental State should  not be  business as usual  but focuses on creating and promoting Progressive synergies between public action and private enterprise and  Market complementation, not obstructing, distorting or crowding out the private sector,” said Dr. Eboh.

He pointed out that while there are a number of economic and business performance scoreboards for Africa countries, there is yet no pan-African social innovations scoreboard.

ATPS 2012 annual conference is being held under the theme emerging paradigms, technologies and innovations for sustainable development: global imperatives and African realities which brought together researchers, academia, policy makers and innovators.


Africa Should not Celebrate Yet on its Growth Prospects

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

Posted on 21st November, 2012by Prof. ATPS Admin

Africa’s growth if not driven by a diversified production structure essentially in manufacturing that would deliver quality jobs and raise incomes, would remain trepid, fragile and susceptible to negative shocks, according to Prof. Osita Ogbu, the director of the Institute for Development Studies based at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

While giving a key note address titled The Fragility of the Recent Africa’s Growth and the Opportunity for Creating Jobs through a New Technology and Industrial Policy, Prof. Osita notes that Africa should not celebrate yet about its recent growth and continued prospects.

And, according to his paper, there is an emerging consensus on new industrial and technology policy regime that if well crafted, contextualized and implemented, could stimulate greater manufacturing in Africa and lead to structural change.

Prof. Osita notes that historically, industrial policy in various shades has always been used by every nation to climb the industrialization ladder.

“Unfortunately, Africa’s initial attempts were not very successful. Rather than re-strategize, Africa and those advising Africa abandoned this strategy completely in spite of its being responsible for the basic industrial structure that currently exist,” he said, adding that there is now a greater opportunity for African governments and the organized private sector to work together to address the problems that have hindered the emergence of a dynamic manufacturing sector in Africa.

However, Africa still has a number of opportunities to exploit.

“These opportunities include the emerging consensus in industrial policy, the rising cost of production in China, the youth force in Africa and the existence of basic manufacturing hubs,” said Prof. Osita.

He spoke during the ongoing ATPS 2012 annual conference being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the theme Emerging paradigms, technologies and innovations for sustainable development: global imperatives and African realities which brought together researchers, academia, policy makers and innovators.

The conference is reflecting on a post Rio +20 futures for Africa.

Despite all Africa’s presumed economic growth, Prof. Osita notes that the continent’s growth is still very fragile.

“In spite of the impressive growth rates, Africa’s economic transformation has not occurred, and any talk of structural shift is not backed by evidence,” he observed.

And for Africa to fast track its development and growth agenda, Prof. Osita notes that Africa needs growth based on industrialization and Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).

“There should be a link between STI policies and the economic agenda so that one can be seen to be driving the other,” he said.


Notable initiatives that can be put in place to foster youth employment in Africa today

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

Posted on 14th August, 2012by Mr. Olumayokun Okelola

Such initiatives are no rocket science at all. They are simply the straight lines that connects our ingenuity as a people with the untapped resources on the African continent. When this is done with the right political will. Unemployment will become alien to the African youth because presently, We are a people starving a midst plenty and opportunities. Thank you.


Technology appropriate for Africa

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

Posted on 17th May, 2012by Mr. DANIEL WASONGA

Africa and Kenya has its 80% population living in rural farms with only 20% in urban, yet it cannot feed its population .This is direct opposite of the Developed countries with only 20% of rural population feeding the rest of 80%. It is time we develop appropriate Agricultural technologies suitable for African Agriculture.


ATPS Network in the UK

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

Posted on 10th January, 2011by Mrs. Tochukwu Ife-Ogbonna

I am very much impressed with what the ATPS Network is doing in Africa but the irony of the African is that even in the so called developed Western world (s)he is much in need when it comes to scinece, technology and innovation – the core focus of the ATPS.  May be it is time to look West as well.

Mrs Tochukwu Ife-Ogbonna.