Background and Rational
As the economies of the EAC Partner States evolve from traditionally agricultural, natural resources based and low-value manufacturing activities, research and innovation will remain critical pillars on which economic growth would increasingly depend. Articles 79 and 80 of the EAC Treaty, the Protocol for the establishment of the EAC Common Market, and the EAC Development Strategy, clearly articulate the region’s commitment to transform the EAC economies through promoting human resource development, research and innovation, and supporting industrialization. This commitment also synergizes with the EAC Industrialization Policy and Strategy 2012-2032 that calls for public-private sector participation in industrial development against a backdrop of extensive programmes in research, technology and innovation. This is also in line with the EAC Vision 2050, which provides the roadmap and strategies for transforming the Community into an upper-middle income region. Furthermore, the recent declaration of East Africa as a Common Higher Education Area has the potential for consolidating the EAC integration agenda, anchored on comparable, compatible, coherent and harmonized systems of higher education. Effective operationalization of the Common Higher Education Area is expected to contribute significantly in the production of highly skilled human resources for the socio-economic transformation of the region because of the effective sharing of higher education resources in the EAC region pool, as well as enhanced utilization of skills across the region as a result of mutual recognition of credentials.
Consequently in 2011, IUCEA and EABC entered into a partnership aimed at providing the point of connection between knowledge and human resources produced by higher education institutions in the region on the one hand, and the dissemination of the same to the private sector for their eventual diffusion into the productive, social and service sectors on the other. The partnership focuses on (i) enhancing linkage between the academia, research institutions, and public and private sector enterprises; (ii) promoting the utilization of higher education research output and innovations by the private sector/business community; (iii) promoting consultative engagement in curriculum and research development and implementation and (iv), jointly organizing dialogue forums and exhibitions. These Forums have provided a cross-fertilisation engagement for promoting the utilization of higher education research outputs and innovations by the private sector/business community as well as by the public sector. The first jointly organized forum was held in October 2012, where it was resolved that the Forum will be held on annual basis. At the same time, the pioneer Forum organizers – IUCEA and EABC – were later joined by EADB in 2013 and EASTECO in 2017.
The Forum have covered so far the following thematically presentations and plenary discussions open to all stakeholders. Exhibition: display of the operations, products, services and achievements of academia, the public and the private sectors in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship development in the region. So far, the following discussed the following topics;
2012: Linking Universities to Industry for Building Knowledge-based Economies and Regional Integration in East Africa (Tanzania)
2013: Bridging the academia and private sector through engagement with public sector (Kenya)
2014: Harnessing East Africa’s Innovation Potential (Rwanda)
2015: Developing the Ideal Graduate through Academia-Public-Private Partnership (Uganda)
2016 Quality Education, Research and Innovation as Drivers of New Economies in the East African Community (Tanzania)
2017/2018: Forthcoming: The East African Common Higher Education Area: Opportunities for Industrialization through Academia (Kenya)