Prof. Walter Oyawa, Director General – National Commission for Science, Technology, and Innovation (NACOSTI), has been appointed as the Chair of the East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO) Governing Board, an institution of the East African Community (EAC).  In a letter dated 13th April 2021, the Executive Secretary of EASTECO – Mr. Fortunate Muyambi, confirmed that this was a decision of the 6th Extraordinary meeting of EASTECO Governing Board held on 13th March 2021.

“I am pleased to inform you that you have been nominated as the Chairperson of the EASTECO Governing Board. The EASTECO secretariat looks forward to work with you during your tenure in office,” expressed Mr. Muyambi.

The office of the Chairperson of the EASTECO Governing Board is held for a period of one year on rotational basis among all members from EAC Partner States. The responsibilities of the EASTECO Governing Board are captured in the Rules of Procedure for the EASTECO Governing Board and include among others; formulating policies that shall safeguard the region from hazards that might result from research activities and application of Science and Technology.

EASTECO’s mandate is to promote and coordinate the development, management and application of science and technology in the Partners States for enhanced socioeconomic development and regional integration. The commission is the main regional agency through which the Partner States develop and implement common science, technology and innovation (STI) policies, programmes and projects in priority areas that include human resources development, collaborative research, technology development and innovation

EASTECO is currently working on key regional documents that have direct bearing on the functions of NACOSTI as well as Kenya’s strategic positioning as a Regional Technology Innovation hub. These documents include the East Africa Community STEM Strategy, East African Regional Policy on Indigenous Knowledge and Technology Systems, East African Regional Bioeconomy Strategy, review of EASTECO’s Strategic Plan, East African Regional Policy for Intellectual Property, and East Africa Policy for STI.

Speaking on his appointment, Prof. Oyawa said, “I am grateful to members of the Governing Board of EASTECO for bestowing their trust on me, I will undertake to discharge my duties diligently and in the best interest of East Africa’s Science and Technology community.” He reiterated the need for a collective and inclusive approach to discharging the mandate of EASTECO.

Prof. Oyawa is a civil engineer by profession and is passionate about utilization of STI in emerging economies for sustainable socio – economic development. He believes that the time has come for the African content to take a “deep-dive” into the 4th Industrial Revolution which is currently being driven by intelligent frontier technologies such as Big Data, robotics, blockchain, IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Nano Technology. He further observes that even as Africa strives to harness the benefits of the 4th Industrial Revolution, advanced economies have already made a quantum leap into the 5th Industrial Revolution that is predicted to be an Artificial Intelligence revolution that will draw humans and machines together at the workplace, in contrast to the 4th revolution that focussed on machines. As such, African scientists have to make every effort to evolve and channel “smart” technologies that will leapfrog or catapult the continent into the global arena in the midst of a disrupted world. Accordingly, NACOSTI’s futuristic role is thus already determined.

NACOSTI is established under the Science, Technology, and Innovation Act, 2013 (Rev. 2014) with a unique mandate of regulating and assuring quality in the research, science, technology and innovation sector, advising the Government in matters related thereto. In so doing, the Commission shall Regulate, Coordinate, Advise and Promote Science, Technology, Innovation and Research activities in the country.

Among other functions of NACOSTI include; developing priorities in scientific, technological and innovation activities in Kenya, Registering and Accrediting Research Institutions, Licensing of Research and assuring relevance and quality of research programmes in research institutions, coordinating and evaluating activities relating to scientific research and technology development, annually reviewing the progress in scientific systems, and promoting the adoption and application of scientific and technological knowledge in attaining national development.