The National Commission of Science and Technology (NCST) will help harness the potential of science, technology, innovation and research and integrate it into national development strategies and plans.
This was said yesterday by the Director General of the Commission, Prof Manasseh Mbonye, as he appeared before members of the parliamentary standing committe on Education, Technology, Culture and Youth.
The parliamentarians had sought to know from him the mandate of the commission and its direct benefit to the ordinary citizen.
Mbonye was in parliament as part of the process to revise the 2013 law establishing the Science and Technology institution changing it from a Commission into a Council.
According to an explanatory note seen by this news paper, the government was seeking to change the law to harmonise the title of the organ and the content of the law.
“At the time of the establishment of the NCST, it was given a form of National Council rather than a National Commission. They did not provide neither permanent nor non-permanent commissioners as is the norm in other national commissions,” it says.
The draft law was worked on with the help from representatives of the Ministries of Education, Public Service and Labour, and Justice.
“Our duty is to provide strategic advice and recommendations to the Government on all matters relating to policies, legislation and regulation in the fields of science, technology, research and innovation and monitor the implementation of such policies and legislation,” Mbonye said.
However, MP Edda Mukabagwiza tasked him to explain how the institution’s research is harmonised with that by universities to avoid duplication.
“I think that this should be an institution that coordinates all the research that is done in this country. There have been cases where researchers have found out that they have all been doing research on the same subject, sometimes causing conflict.
“I would like to know how this institution’s research is linked to higher institutions of learning, especially universities,” she said.
In response, Mbonye said that currently, NCST does not control all the research and technology done within the country.
“I would like to remind you that the Council doesn’t control all the research and technology as of now. There could be research that is being done out there that is solely in the interest of individuals or that are even good, but do not benefit the development of the country. We are currently focusing on areas that are of value to the country. Maybe later, we can include everyone,” he said.
MP Philbert Uwiringiyimana urged the setting up of a monitoring system that would help one to know which research was being done by who, how they were being supported and the timeline of when they would share their research findings.
“Most advanced countries are where they are because of technological innovation that is backed by research. How do we monitor which research innovation is being done and which one is more value than the other is important,” he said.
The chairperson of the standing committe, Agnes Mukazibera, observed that there was need for innovators to get their work to the locals.