The U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance (AVC), Mr. Paul Sean, paid a courtesy call to the Director General for the National Commission for Science, Technology, and Innovation (NACOSTI), Prof. Walter Oyawa to discuss issues on emerging technologies as well as share on the U.S. policy on that front on 5th May 2023 at the Commission’s headquarters. Mr. Paul Sean was accompanied by US State Department colleagues Aaron Miles and John Bravaco, as well as Mr. Francesco Barbacci, who oversees the External Political section at the US Embassy in Nairobi. Dr. David Njubi (Ag. Director, Advisory, Standards, and Licensing), Ms. Evelyn Mbaabu (Principal Scientist- Humanity and Social Sciences), Dr. Mary Onsarigo (Senior Scientist- Biological and Health Sciences), and Mr. Denis Yegon (ICT) accompanied the DG of NACOSTI.
The meeting acknowledged that the use of new and emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, Machine Learning and use of Satellites, and space are on the rise especially due to their dual -use nature by militaries. Therefore, there is need to develop rules/principles/framework that will ensure countries apply these technologies responsibly without deterring developments in science and technology as well as ensuring global security. NACOSTI was informed that AVC have already developed a document which they are willing to share with Partner countries for improvement and build consensus for adoptability by other states. The document will have broad principles which countries can improve depending on their specific needs but remain accountable and responsible in the use of these emerging technologies. They identified and appreciated that Kenya is a strategic country that they would like to have as one of the key stakeholders contributing to the framework and they are seeking to build consensus with key partners like Kenya through NACOSTI which is a key stakeholder of the government in regulatory matters of Science Technology and Innovation. Responsible use of the emerging technologies such AI will build confidence among governments, which in turn will deter conflict, promote transparency, and enhance strategic stability.
On the other hand, the DG NACOSTI highlighted on the pertinent emerging issues related to security and health hazards such as Aflatoxins in the staple food (Maize flour), Invasive species (Propsopis, juliflora) affecting the livelihood of many and pandemics. He admitted that developments in science and technologies including the emerging technologies should offer solutions to these problems as witnessed during COVID-19. He also confirmed that the government of Kenya is very keen on developments in science and technology given that the president has established a presidential advisory committee on Science, Technology and Innovation.
As a way forward, both teams concurred to work together in coordinating and bringing other relevant stakeholders on-board for a dialogue on this topic. They agreed on further engagement to bring on board the relevant institutions to discuss on programs that can be implemented by both countries.