Varsities urged to innovate, help Africa end poverty

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African governments have been advised to implement sustainable development goals logically to achieve the intended outcomes, participants at a conference held at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) were told.

Speaking at the 13th JKUAT conference on Thursday, Prof Nick Wanjohi, Department of Development Studies at the institution said for Africa to achieve sustainable development goals set out in 2015 in New York, US, governments must focus on building resilient structures in renewable energy, good transport and manufacturing.

“Africa must modernise it productive tools and commercialise its products through value addition for robust economic growth,” he said.

According to Wanjohi, local products value addition will potentially create and expand jobs and boost the economy. “Efforts should be put in small and medium industries to move innovation forward,” said Wanjohi noting that local industries require less capital.

He said commercialization of local products and innovations is the sure way of not only eliminating poverty but also of spreading the wealth to the people. Prof Wanjohi also argued that universities organize regular meetings with potential business partners and experts to boost local products.

According to JKUAT’s Vice-Chancellor Prof Victoria Ngumi, the demand for new, cost-effective innovations is increasing among the local businesses.

She said research is crucial to feed into innovations that offer solutions to the multi-sectoral challenges facing Africa.

Prof Hamadi Boga who is the Principal Secretary from the State Department of Agriculture said that the technologies, innovations and information now need to be packaged in a friendly way so that they reach the targeted end-users with the support of relevant policies to be formulated to accelerate up-and-out scaling.

He said research and innovation need strengthening as to support the digital data used to drive decision-making processes. He said Research and Development are capital intensive and consequently, local universities must commercialize.



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