East African Science and Technology Commission launched

The East African Science and Technology Commission, or EASTECO, has been officially launched in the Rwandan capital Kigali with the aim of promoting and coordinating the development of science and technology in the region.

The commission was launched during the East African Community, or EAC, awareness week, held from 9-14 November under the theme “Eight Years of Rwanda in the EAC: Deepening the regional integration agenda”.

EASTECO was agreed by the fifth extraordinary summit of the EAC back in 2007, and started partial operation in July 2015.

Its objectives include facilitating the development of regional research centres of excellence, establishing joint research institutions in various science and technology disciplines, and formulating and evaluating regional science and technology policy.

The commission’s functions will include creating think-tanks that will forecast and evaluate trends in science and technology, and promoting the development of special talents in science and technology fields, with particular emphasis on youth and gender.

It will also coordinate the creation of regional research registries and organise workshops and conferences for the advancement and dissemination of science and technology knowledge.

The EASTECO board will comprise representatives of public and private universities, the executive secretary of the Inter-University Council for East Africa, scientists, science and technology councils, ministries and the private sector, among others.

“The EAC believes that science and technology are a powerful tool to drive regional development,” Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza, minister for East African Community affairs, was quoted as saying at the EASTECO launch event.

“However, EASTECO staff alone cannot achieve that goal.” He called for partnerships between governments, the private sector and research and innovation institutions “to ensure the commission delivers”.