, KIGALI, Rwanda, Oct 23 – A regional conference on education aimed at finding ways of harnessing innovation potential to drive social economic development in East Africa got underway in Rwanda’s capital Kigali on Thursday as part of Africa’s spirited attempt to become self-reliant in years to come.
The forum jointly organised by the Inter-University Council of East Africa, East African Development Bank and the East African Business Council brings together heads of universities from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi who will deliberate with representatives of research institutions as well as those from governments and private sector.
Dubbed “Harnessing East Africa’s Innovation Potential”, the conference is being held under the umbrella of the East African Community (EAC).
The forum is informed by resolutions of similar meetings held in Tanzania and Kenya in the past two years when players agreed that East Africa will not make tremendous achievements in years to come unless research and innovation space is not expanded.
“Africa cannot move from its position unless we identify challenges facing the region’s innovation potential and seek ways of strengthening the private sector, government and academia partnership,” Felix Mosha, chairman of the East African Business Council said, emphasising the need to entrench skills training in learning institutions.
“That is the only way to bridge the job market scarcity faced in the region today,” he said.
Rwanda’s Finance Permanent Secretary Kampeta Sayinzoga emphasised on the need for institutions of higher learning to adjust their curriculums to be able to produce self reliant graduates as “opposed to producing job seekers.”
“It is a question we should keep asking ourselves and must get answers because the umbrella of job seekers is increasing at an alarming rate,” Sayinzoga who also heads the East African Development Bank said.
EAC’s Secretary General Richard Sezibera stressed the need for shared technology skills across the region as partner states strive to open up borders to a single monetary and customs union.
“We will not achieve much if we don’t allow free flow of these skills across the region because,” he said, and urged institutions of higher learning to embrace research and innovation which, he said, is a driving force in the developed world.
At the end of the two-day conference, participants are expected to come up with long term solutions on ways of promoting strategic and sustainable development of higher education systems and research for supporting East Africa’s socio-economic development and regional integration.