Maximising use of science and technology is part of the government’s agenda to increase products value addition, Education minister Papias Musafiri has said.
The minister was speaking, yesterday, as experts met to devise regional priorities in science, technology, and innovation funding workshop in Kigali. The workshop convened regional scientific bodies and commissions, under the East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO).
It sought to design a five-year action plan in integration of science and technology toward socio-economic transformation and sustainable development.
Minister Musafiri said a policy on science and technology should provide tangible and palpable solutions to prevailing challenges.
“The role of science and technology, first of all, is to provide simple technology that should later be disseminated or transferred to support either farms or small-scale industry activities and to ensure that we have some facilities at the lower level processes of the materials which are being produced,” he said.
Musafiri said it was important to create a value addition chain for both agricultural and mineral products.
“The kind of technology you need in agro-processing industry should not be sophisticated and high-end, it is a question of mindset change and the question of using the right tools among our young people so that they can embrace science, technology and innovation,” the minister said.
“Under Made-in-Rwanda campaign, for example, we are trying to promote change in mindset so that people can love our own products. These are products that need some simple solutions so that we are able to create value addition to agricultural produce before export.”
Jessica Eriyo, the East African Community (EAC) deputy secretary-general for productive and social sectors, said the recent EAC Heads of State Summit and Council of Ministers identified value addition to products in the region among the key interventions needed.
“We were also told to phase out used leather products and clothes and build capacity to add value to our cotton and other products in the region. In addition, we will need to build industries that will support ideas and initiatives that create employment,” she said.
Eriyo called on EAC partner states to align their priorities to EASTECO goals.
“We know the challenges faced by partner states, but I really call upon our partner states to increase their contributions. Once we develop the strategic interventions, we will know exactly how much money we need, so that we can be able to link strategies developed here with what is at the national level,” Eriyo said.
The EASTECO, with headquarters in Kigali, was established by the fifth extraordinary summit of the EAC Heads of State on June 18, 2007, in recognition of fundamental importance of collaboration in science and technology for economic development, as stipulated in Article 103 of the Treaty establishing the East African Community.