On Thursday March 9, 2017; a panelist discussion on Kenya’s Innovation Policy was held at the University of Nairobi Towers. The basis of this panel was to discuss the draft Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy and Act and also to discuss some of the major achievements that have been made possible through the implementation of the STI Act.
The panelists included the PS. State Department for Investment and Industry, Julius Korir; PS. ICT and Innovation, Eng Victor Kyalo; Ag. CEO Kenya National Agency (KENIA), Dr. Salome Guchu; Country General Manager, IBM East Africa, Nicholas Nesbitt ; Ag. CEO, NRF, Dr. Jemimah Onsare and Mr. Louis Otieno from Microsoft Africa. The session was moderated by Prof. Timothy Waema.
To start off the session, Prof. Reuben Marwanga; Chairman, Management Board-KENIA gave a presentation on the “Effective coordination of National Innovation System”. The presentation gave an in-depth look at what the Kenya National Agency (KENIA) is doing to develop and manage the Kenya National Innovation. Prof. Marwanga presentation also highlighted the institutional framework and discussed the roles each institution is expected to play in the implementation of the policy. Prof Marwanga highlighted some of the key policies the organization has proposed to implement; click to download full presentation
To engage the panelists in deliberating about the topic of the day- Kenya’s Innovation Policy, Prof Waema guided panelists through a series of questions mainly on the key elements of the Policy framework.
Mr. Louis Otieno was of the opinion that the draft policy is implementable as it is, since many stakeholders were consulted during the drafting of the policy. He however insisted that as a country; there is a need to assess the needs of the end users and what is readily available in the market. He also highlighted the issue of access saying that the more people have access to information and technology, the more innovative people will be. In closing, he ended his remarks stating that the policy is driven by the needs of the people.
Dr. Jemimah remarks mainly touched on the need to focus on a collaborative effort to ensure that all stakeholders are consulting each other and working towards a common goal of ensuring the spirit of the policy is implemented.
Mr. Nicholas Nesbitt further added that all ministries and institutions involved in the implementation of the policy should make a deliberate effort to ensure that the policy is exposed to the public, that people get to not only read and understand but are also actively involved in making it better. He went further to say that to maximize on Innovation in Kenya, all the key players must align 3 aspects, - first, the maturity of the innovator, as the age of the innovators does carry a certain amount of risk, secondly, the area of innovation, to make sure that innovators do not only focus on one sector but all sectors e.g. Agriculture, technology, health etc and thirdly, the curve of the industry itself, the readiness of the market to adapt the innovation for profit.
PS. Julius Korir whose docket is mandated to implement national innovations that commercialization is the vehicle on which innovation seats. The policy touches on the commercialization of all innovations to ensure innovators benefit from their creations. There is a documented procedure that allows the government to track innovations, find out where the innovators are based and the necessary support they require to scale the innovations for mass consumption.
Dr. Salome supported the idea to further strengthen is the draft that is already in place saying that the institutions have already been set up to address matters innovation in the country. The institutions in place need to be strengthened to cover all counties and reach even the marginalized areas. She concluded by saying that all actors need to work together as team to ensure there is a database of all innovations and that all innovations are commercialized.
Members of the audience were drawn from various organizations and universities across the country.