EAST AFRICA – In a conclusion to the 3rd East African Community (EAC) Regional Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Conference, held in Nairobi, Kenya, delegates have issued a resounding call to action, urging Partner States and stakeholders to embrace the potential of genetic diversity preservation and the adoption of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) technology.

The conference, co-hosted by the East African Science and Technology Commission (EAsTECO) and the Inter-University Council of East Africa (IUCEA), united scholars, researchers, and experts from across the region and beyond, to deliberate on accelerating the development and diffusion of STI solutions for a resilient East Africa.

Recognizing the perilous loss of genetic diversity, delegates championed the establishment of a regional genetic store, aimed at safeguarding genetic materials for future generations.

The call to action underlined Africa’s rich biodiversity, now teetering on the brink of depletion, and emphasized the economic potential inherent in preserving indigenous genetic resources.

Amidst fervent debates, the conference tackled head-on the pervasive misconceptions surrounding GMOs, highlighting their potential to revolutionize food security, agricultural exports, and nutrition.

Emphasizing the urgency of dispelling misinformation, experts urged simplified communication strategies to foster informed public discourse and decision-making on GMO adoption.

Facilitating trade and food movement

Addressing barriers to food distribution, delegates stressed the imperative of free trade and unhindered food movement across national borders within the EAC region. With disparities in food surpluses and shortages prevalent, the call for dismantling non-tariff barriers resonated as a crucial step toward addressing hunger and enhancing regional prosperity.

The conference resonated with calls to harness the transformative power of digital entrepreneurship, advocating for supportive regulatory frameworks and tax incentives to nurture a thriving digital ecosystem.

Embracing smart manufacturing, AI technologies, and digital financial services emerged as cornerstones for East Africa’s economic advancement in the digital age.

Promoting open science and innovation

Urging a paradigm shift towards open science practices, stakeholders advocated for collaborative innovation efforts, enhanced research computing infrastructure, and increased funding allocation towards Research and Development (R&D).

The imperative of bridging skepticism towards science and fostering a culture of innovation underscored the region’s commitment to unlocking its full potential.

Delegates championed science diplomacy as a catalyst for attracting skilled diaspora experts, advocating for a Decade of Diaspora Return to bolster human capital in STEM fields.

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