Anchor Big Four agenda on research to avoid guesswork-experts

October 10, 2018 3:00 pm
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Addressing journalists on the sideline of the meeting, Agriculture Principal Secretary in charge of research Professor Hamadi Boga revealed that the ministry is already mapping out the research agenda for agriculture/MOSES MUOKI

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 10 – Various stakeholders among them scholars have challenged the Government to anchor President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda on research.

They say evidence-based research will ensure the ambitious agenda targets the right people and address some perennial challenges like poverty.

Dr Joanes Atela from the Africa Centre for Technology Studies and the coordinator of the Africa Sustainability Hub says the research will help unlock many opportunities, as envisioned in Sustainable Development and Africa’s agenda 2063.

“We are trying to see how research that has been done in terms of informing some of these policies like the Big Four Agenda can be transformed into use,” he said.

“The next step is how we are going to implement them to make sure that they are actually actionable.

He was speaking during a consortium meeting by various stakeholders on understanding sustainability challenges and key research needs on Wednesday in Nairobi.

Addressing journalists on the sideline of the meeting, Agriculture Principal Secretary in charge of research Professor Hamadi Boga revealed that the ministry is already mapping out the research agenda for agriculture.

“For Africa to address some of these very persistent issues that are captured in the Sustainable Development Goals, in the Africa Agenda 2063, the denominator is knowledge and the only way you can access knowledge is if you invest in research,” he asserted.

He noted that African countries still lags behind when it comes to investing in research.

“We as a continent, we have not figured out how to invest in research and we have to put in place systems to manage research. We are also struggling with the systems of how to harness what comes out of research,” he said.

“The conversation between policymakers and researchers is very key so that research is sustained, and policy informs research and vice versa. Otherwise, we will be engaging in guesswork.”

Just like other stakeholders, he cautioned that some of the set goals may not be achieved if they are not informed by research.

The meeting comes after a 3-year project dubbed “Pathways Network” which was funded by the International Science Council, to explore transformations in society and ecology in six countries around the world.

The focus was on establishing how different people understand problems and imagine new solutions.

In Kenya, according to the Africa Centre for Technology Studies Executive Director Prof Tom Migu Ogada, the project looked at how mobile-enabled payments for solar power could work for poor people, exploring the barriers and opportunities for change in policy and practice.

“The key lesson is that it is not only a matter of technology and funding but also the changing relationships between people and institutions,” he said.

The project also worked in China, India, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Argentina, with a focus on transformations in agriculture and food, low carbon development, urbanization and water.

Prof Ogada said the Africa Sustainability Hub has been drawing lessons from the project for Kenya and the wider sustainable development agenda in Africa.

Africa’s agenda 2063 is anchored on an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable Africa’s future.

“While there has been significant research on some of the challenges, the research investments have arguably not led to tangible returns resulting to poor government incentive to invest in research. African investments in research for development is relatively low compared to other developing regions. Consequently, the linkage between research and development should be strengthened,” he said.

But this, he said calls for more collaborative research and partnerships that the Africa Sustainability Hub is pioneering.

Among the experts who present during the meeting was the United Nations Regional Climate Coordinator Innovative Climate Action and Development Dr Richard Munang.

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