Researchers need to actively engage policymakers

University of Rwanda staff at a past forum on research and innovation in Kigali. (File)

Beginning today, Kigali will play host to a three-day workshop for top University lecturers and researchers from around the East African Community (EAC), with the goal of exploring ways of expanding postgraduate programmes across the region.

Participants will seek to find solutions to critical gaps that continue to undermine advancement of research among regional varsities, with far-reaching consequences on development efforts.

Shortage of qualified researchers is among the main development challenges the region faces.

In the 21st century, research is synonymous with sustainable development. It is key to unlocking Africa’s potential and ensuring optimal use of resources amidst poverty and other challenges affecting the continent.

No country or institution can put claim to sustainable development without embracing research at the planning level. Indeed, the future of Africa’s development will largely depend on how much is invested in research to seek the right solutions for Africa’s challenges.

Emerging regional and global dynamics require concerted efforts to put research at the forefront of planning and policy formulation. But at the forefront of this drive is the academia. Public and private universities must move beyond lip service and making recommendations that only end up gathering dust without any implementation. 

Academic researchers should engage policymakers to ensure that planning is done on the basis of research.

Rwanda has lately moved to allocate more funding to research, and it is a step in the right direction because research is the starting point if the country is to achieve sustainable development in the long run. 

But there is need for more efforts to finance research projects so as to come up with results that can help truly inform policies.

Research leads to evidence based policies, better use of resources, good governance and good development, and this is what the African continent requires.

The gathering in Kigali should help find lasting solutions to research-related challenges, chief of which should be avenues through which to actively engage policymakers.


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