The Sixth COMESA Annual Research Forum is underway in Nairobi, Kenya with over 80 leading academicians, trade experts from the public and private sector, policy think-tanks, and innovators in science and technology from the COMESA Member States attending.
The week-long forum is intended to share knowledge and deliberate on empirical issues on how to promote intra-COMESA trade through innovation.
Thirteen research papers prepared by researchers from across the region will be presented at the Forum, which is anchored under the theme: “Promoting Intra-COMESA Trade through Innovation”.
The forum is primarily concerned with ensuring that the highest quality research-derived evidence informs policy development in COMESA. Assistant Secretary-General of COMESA, Dr Kipyego Cheluget, told the researchers that there was a ready demand for the research forum’s output.
“Member States have continued to appreciate the critical role of the policy analysis and many of them have been implementing the policy recommendations on various papers presented in the previous research forums,” he said.
“Effective decision-making requires good advice, and that depends on the informed use of evidence both in developing policy and in evaluating its effect once implemented.”
He added that capacity building interventions in research and training carried out by COMESA are aimed at enhancing not only the capacity of the COMESA Secretariat but also the capacity of the Member States in economic and trade policy analysis and research, as well as trade negotiations.
The Principal Secretary in the State Department of Trade in Kenya, Dr Chris Kiptoo, said the best way to achieve productivity growth is through greater innovation, which can be defined as the development of new or improved products, services and processes.
“Organizations that innovate successfully can enhance their competitiveness and position themselves for growth,” Dr Kiptoo said in a statement presented by the Director of Administration Ms Fauzia Shauri.
He observed that countries and regions with robust innovation activities have higher productivity, economic growth and job creation and have more government revenues available to support spending in core public priorities such as health, education and infrastructure.
“I urge you to focus your discussions on evidence-based issues that would enable us to enjoy the trade benefits associated with innovation to attain economic growth and development for our people. The golden rule is to think of posterity instead of being guided by short-term challenges and short-term gains.”
Dr George Njenga, the Dean of the Business School at the Strathmore University in Nairobi, stressed the need for implementing the numerous high-quality research outputs from scholars in Africa stating that ‘research from our institutions have never known commercialization
He recommended the establishment of data and exhibition centres for the small and medium enterprises in the COMESA region to promote the commercialization of innovative products.
On Thursday this week, selected innovators from the COMESA Member States will showcase their innovation on the margins of the research forum.
The focus will be on new products, new methods of production and new ways of improving the technology.
They include five recipients of the COMESA innovation award of $10,000 which they used to commercialize their innovative products and to establish successful companies.