Boost universities’ research capacity, experts tell State

Agriculture PS Prof Hamadi Boga.

Research holds the key to unlocking the country’s potential, scholars say, amid renewed calls to have training institutions embrace innovation. This it was noted that would boost skills development.

International development experts, at a conference in Nairobi last week, want research in local universities sustained, and used to ensure policies are aligned with the country’s needs and socio-economic realities. 

Addressing the forum, Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga acknowledges that despite minimal funding for research, the government was making efforts to ensure research systems are strengthened and incorporated within President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ‘big four’ agenda. 

“African researchers should take a key role in ensuring top quality research is produced as owners of research often control the knowledge systems. It’s critical to map out research and institute mapping on the research agenda critical for national discourses,” he Prof Boga said.  

The PS underscored the importance of researcher’s collaboration with political systems.

“We need to critically re-package and sustain conversations on innovative research methodologies for Kenya,” he added. 

Research uptake

The Africa Sustainability Hub at the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) in collaboration with the University of Sussex convened the meeting to discuss ways to ensure research uptake and collaborations are incorporated into development agenda of countries’ policies. 

Dr Joanes Atela, head of Climate Change programme at ACTS said: “In Kenya, young scholars continue to develop innovative platforms that offer significant opportunities for the research agenda that seeks to enhance the development trajectory of the country.” 

Atela said evidence-based research is the key to unlocking solutions to the country’s challenges. 

Dr Richard Munang, the United Nations Environment Africa Regional Climate Change Programme coordinator said findings on climate change should be critically addressed. He called don countries to take the Paris agreement on climate change seriously. “Research should not be isolated from mainstream development as has been currently observed,’ said Munang. 

Prof David Ockwell of the University of Sussex noted the importance of research collaborations across the continents as it offered great cross-learning opportunities for researchers to learn and engage. 

The meeting was convened after a 3-year project called the Pathways Network, funded by the International Science Council, which used ‘Transformation Lab’ (T-Lab) processes to explore transformations in society and ecology in six countries.

They looked at how different people understand problems and imagine new solutions.

In Kenya, 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.