Kenya fast-tracks establishment of a national research fund
Tuesday 17th March 2014……The government, industry and research bodies have commenced discussions on modalities of setting up a national research fund to accelerate transition to knowledge based economy.
Education Cabinet Secretary, Professor Jacob Kaimenyi said today that the government has prioritized research funding to achieve industrial renaissance as outlined in Kenya`s vision 2030 blue print.“The government has put in place institutional and legal frameworks to facilitate research funding in order for the country to leapfrog into industrial status,” said the CS. He made he remarks in Nairobi during a stakeholders` workshop to discuss the operationalization of a national research fund.
Kenya is signatory to the African Union`s protocol that oblige member states to commit 1% of their GDP to support scientific research. Prof. Kaimenyi said the government has explored innovative mechanisms to scale up funding towards science, technology and innovations.
The National Research Fund established under the Science and Technology Innovation Act, 2013 will facilitate research for the advancement of science, technology and innovation. Kenya’s current allocation for research amounts to 0.5 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), an amount that is negligible compared to the country’s research needs and potential.
“The current investments in research and development remain low. We intend to increase research funding to 2% of GDP through partnership with key stakeholders including the private sector and foundations,” said Kaimenyi. Establishment of a national research fund will spur innovations that are crucial to re-invent Kenya`s economy he added. Prof. Kaimenyi noted key economic sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, education, infrastructure and health will benefit from a national research kitty.
The Kenyan government has been allocating USD 4 million annually to finance research and innovations since 2008. He Cabinet Secretary revealed that an estimated one thousand research projects have benefitted from state funding. “It is anticipated that a national research fund will enable the country harness scientific and technical knowhow to address current and emerging challenges to sustainable development,” said Kaimenyi.