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EAC eyes closer cooperation in industrial research

By East African Community (EAC)
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ARUSHA, Tanzania, February 23, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Heads of industrial research institutions in the EAC Partner States are meeting in Arusha today and tomorrow to discuss modalities for collaboration and partnership in industrial research technology and innovation.

Enhanced cooperation is expected to reduce duplication of efforts and ensure more rationalized research and technology initiatives in the region. Also, the industrial research chief executives will discuss priority areas and explore sustainable funding at regional level.

At the 23-24 February meeting convened at the Kibo Palace Hotel, industrialization experts will also finalize the draft terms of reference for a study to review the industrial research, technology and innovations situation in the region.

The study will prepare an action plan to enhance regional collaboration in research and development (R&D), technology development and technology transfer in the regional manufacturing and SME businesses.

Opening the meeting, EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Mr. Jean Claude Nsengiyumva, noted that experiences from most countries show that research and technology developments are increasingly being undertaken through multi-disciplinary collaborative approaches.

“We would like to emulate these good practices and encourage the research and technology organizations, universities and private sector to establish regional research and technology networks for the purposes of knowledge sharing and undertaking collaborative research,” Mr. Nsengiyumva said.

The Deputy Secretary General observed that with industrial establishments contributing less than 20 percent to manufacturing value addition in the region, it was imperative to design a research development agenda to support industries and SMEs in the bloc that would in turn boost efforts to remain globally competitive.

The meeting will consider the key elements of a framework necessary for building regional innovative capacity, and harnessing available technology such as: human resource capacity building; fostering international technology networks; connecting research and innovation; and strengthening partnerships between research and technology institutions in the region and the private sector among others.

Such a framework aims at providing solutions to some of the challenges that normally hamper R&D development initiatives in the region, including: limited funding; low commercialization of industrial research and innovations, and a lack of awareness of new technologies and innovations.

Other challenges are; disconnects between research and industry needs; lack of industrial research parks; limited linkages between universities, research centres and industry; as well as duplication of research efforts.

Notes to Editors

Cooperation in the field of industrial R&D and technology transfer is an important area of collaboration identified in the Treaty, the Common Market Protocol and the EAC Industrialization Policy and Strategy.

Pursuant to these provisions, the EAC Secretariat has been facilitating meeting of experts drawn from universities, research & technology organization and private sectors to discuss challenges in the field of industrial R&D and technology transfer, and the ongoing collaboration in research, development and innovation initiatives at Partner States.

The EAC Partner States have thus far decided to undertake promotion of research and technological development through market-led research, technological development and adaptation of technologies. In particular, the region has committed itself to:

a) Disseminate and exchange information & results of activities in industrial research, technological development and demonstration programmes;

b) Facilitate access to their technological and research facilities by researchers and other experts;

c) Encourage private sector participation in activities relating to intra-regional research and transfer of technology;

d) Establish and support research infrastructure, facilities and institutions;

e) Establish regional mechanisms for developing human capacity for industrial and technological advancement; and

f) Establish a research and technology development fund.