MESHA members discuss #African Scientific Revival Day on Facebook

The following is a collection of reactions from a discussion posted on facebook by George Achia,  discussing the  Africa Scientific Revival Daysti photo.

George Achia: June 30th is the African Scientific Revival Day. This day was declared by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the African Union (AU), to celebrate the role of science and technology in Africa’s development. During these celebrations, Kenya’s stakeholders will on Monday take stock of the country’s achievements in science and technology while also assessing the status and needs for the future….

Has Kenya done well in its ST&I sector, and has the country demonstrated her ability in utilization of ST&I as the engine for social and economic development? What are some of the practical examples you can point? What are the challenges and way forward? Over to you…

Responses and discussions

Geoffrey Kamadi Venue?

George Achia KARI HQ,

Geoffrey Kamadi: Saa ngapi bwana? Why are you economical with the info

Maina Waruru :Hope to make it,

Maurice Bolo: Thanks George…actually the venue is KARI – NARL (next to ABC place

George Achia: Maurice Bolo kindly answer Geoffrey Kamadi. on time…I know he wants to attend and do some amazing work.

George Achia: I need your opinions on those issues I have raised. …let them come,

Maurice Bolo: Thanks George Achia…Geoffrey Kamadi, the event will start from 8:30 to 5 p.m. We have lined up interesting activities including presentations from practitioners, panel discussions and science competitions for high school students in “communicating science through art” and we shall be awarding the best students in poetry, essay and art….

George Achia:  Otieno Owino, I know that now whets your appetite..”communicatingscience through art”…U got to be there.

Otieno Owino-Mikwa: That’s quite something George it’s time we thought outside the box. Science ought to be much fun just like art.

Geoffrey Kamadi: Sawasawa! Thanks George Achia! Do you mind in boxing the schedule of events on that material day Maurice Bolo? Thanks so much.

Maurice Bolo: Geoffrey, Yes I will. Am out of office at the moment but will share with you the programme later in the day…Please remind me around 3 p.m.

Geoffrey Kamadi: Cool!

Duncan Mboyah: I am watching from a distance….

George Achia: Duncan Mboyah join the conversation. I asked some questions here whichI needed views on, but no one has given me one…Has Kenya done well in its ST&I sector, and has the country demonstrated her ability in utilization of ST&I as the engine for social and economic development? What are some of the practical examples you can point? What are the challenges and way forward? What’s your thought on this?

Duncan Mboyah: I am not very sure whether Kenya has done well or not. What I am sure about is that Kenya has put in place good policy paper on the way forward. The ability is there when one looks at the personnel but it is also zero on funding as govt and experts interests are poles apart. A lot more need to be done and promises – policy papers must be accompanied with funding instead of doing the talking year in year out.

Geoffrey Kamadi: Ok George Achia…the country is not doing well when it comes to ST&I research initiative. Currently, the government’s allocation to research is a dismal 0.5 percent of GDP, which is way below the recommended 2 percent allocation, in accordance with the Science, Technology and Innovation Act of 2013! June 27 at 12:34pm · Like

George Achia: But what are some of the success stories in application and utilization of STI in the country that you can point out Duncan Mboyah and Geoffrey Kamadi? I guess they are a quite a number.

Shaukat Abdulrazak :Kenya needs to implement the 2% of GDP to support STI sector has indicated in STI act. We are on the path but must leapfrog to catch up. Need to set up more centers of excellence in innovation.

Kimani Chege: Kenya is a country in parallels. For the government, STI is still abstract, something slightly better than jua kali. That’s why funding remains slow. The other parallel is private institutions and to some extent Universities. There is a lot going on especially on the engineering and life sciences. It was only yesterday that JKUAT VC acknowledged the role played by private sector in funding research. We have Kevin Desai who have been there for long and now Manu Chandaria. We also have university-industry linkages in IT and engineering (Strathmore). Things ought to be moving. But again what is it that we as science communicators are doing. Are we telling the policy makers what the community needs. Are our reporting helping the researchers and end users? Are our reporting inconsequential that those in decision making cannot take it serious. My last question is on funding. Kenya is one of the countries in Africa that receives huge funding from international organizations. What significant has this money done before we ask for more.

Kiprotich Koros: Methinks the sector that has had some success in rolling out real Kenyan products to the masses has been the jua kali sector despite no or little funding from the government and in most cases little formal education on that industry. Of the few real Kenyan products in our households, quite a number (in fact most) of them will be from the informal sector. The projects from the academia that have been funded heavily by the government in the most part seem to have only managed to replicate the products that are already produced by the informal sector (excluding areas like agricultural and medical research – biological sciences mainly). If we are to learn some lessons from the jua kali sector then it would be that; we make progress when we do things practically. Of course there is a lot of space for advanced research for the academia and I guess government funding should go to this areas if there is a chance they will solve practical problems. At the moment we have enough STI from all over the world. We just need more of ‘doing.’ So as Kimani Chege has asked: “What significant has this money done before we ask for more?

Maurice Bolo:  The role of the private sector seems clear, our recent work shows that the private sector accounts for up to 78% of all patents registered in Kenya sin e 1990; the universities and public research institutes have accounted for a mere 5% in the same period and interestingly individuals have registered 9% of all the patents since 1990. On Monday June 30th during the scientific revival day, I will be making a case for greater citizen engagement in STI policy….be side to join us on twitter @Scinnovent go follow the discussions…..

Maurice Bolo: George Achia et al, We marked the African Scientific Revival Day, (June30th) with the focus on the achievements/impacts of biotechnology on food and nutrition security in Kenya. Highlights included a very lively panel discussion on the question of whether biotechnology has worked for Kenya, what has it done and where is the evidence?

Senior scientists, youth, practitioners and farmers deliberated on this topic and had veryinteresting revelations…

Mesha Kenya: Maurice, can you kindly send me the report of this day? Could you alsodiscuss with the MESHA coordinator on how your organisation can participate actively in the Africa Conference of Science Journalists organised by MESHA and due in Sep 15 to 19 in Mombasa?

Maurice Bolo: “Thanks very much Mesha Kenya, We are working on the comprehensive report which will take a week or so, but we are happy to share with you the highlights (which will take shorter to put together). I am also quite happy to engage with the Mesha Coordinator on your upcoming conference in Mombasa…please send/inbox me a contact”

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About meshakenya

Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture in Kenya (MESHA) is an association of communicators who are specialized in science, environment, agriculture, health, technology and development reporting.
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