Former Strathmore Dean to Chair the Kenya National Innovation Agency (KENIA)
The immediate former Dean of the Faculty of Information Technology at Strathmore, Prof. Reuben O. Marwanga has been appointed to chair the Kenya National Innovation Agency Board. Prof Marwanga will chair a board of nine members appointed by the Education Cabinet Secretary to steer the agency. The agency is a product of the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Act of 2013 that created a framework for the Kenyan Innovation System. Prof. Marwanga believes his competitive appointment was mainly due to his previous work on incubation at Strathmore:
Prof. Marwanga: I applied for the position in April this year, I was shortlisted and interviewed in June through skype because I was out of the country. Further shortlisting was done and names submitted to the Cabinet for approval, and that is how I was appointed. I think I got the position because of my initial work on incubation at Strathmore University that eventually led to establishment of @Ibizafrica which is a very vibrant incubator and has supported the growth of businesses.
The Innovation Agency is under the Ministry of Education Science and Technology and is expected to develop and manage countrys innovation system and thus institutionalize linkages between universities, research institutions, private sector, the government and other sectors.
Other functions will include; creating innovation parks; creating an environment for innovations to grow; monitoring technologies being developed; creating awareness and a system for Intellectual Property (IP); ensuring the inclusion of science and technology at all levels of education, including primary schools; establishing and maintaining presidential award systems; implementing the national innovation and commercialization policy; and setting up of centres of excellence in innovation, around the country including Counties.
Prof. Marwanga will provide an overall leadership to the board in areas of policy development, harness the collective skills of the board and its committees and those of the executive team to attain objectives. He is also expected to ensure that the board is provided with and approves the corporate strategies, business plans and annual budgets among functions of the agency. With the agency, Prof. Marwanga is confident that our country will significantly improve in her innovation ranking:
Prof. Marwanga: I desire to see Kenya top ranked in the Global Innovation Index (GII); it is the only way we can develop as a country. There is a clear link between innovation and economic development. At the moment, rich countries such as Switzerland, UK, USA, Singapore, Denmark etc. are at the top, while African countries are at the bottom. Kenya is at position 92 in the 2015 GII out of 142 countries. Obviously, the more innovative we get as a country the richer we get because innovations lead to new products and services and hence wealth. Therefore my number one goal is to ensure that KENIA significantly improves Kenyas GII ranking in the shortest time.
Prof. Marwangas Background
Prof. Marwanga is an engineer by profession, who taught in the USA for a number of years before returning to Kenya to continue his academic work. Currently, Prof. Marwanga is the Director School of Mechanical and Process Engineering at the Technical University of Kenya. He also teaches partime at Strathmore University, offering Operations Management to MBA students in SBS and an Innovation and Entrepreneurship graduate class in FIT.
The father of three children, comes from Nyamira County and will serve as Chairman of KENIA for three years starting October 2015. To establish a vibrant agency, Prof. Marwanga believes the intended structures and management for KENIA need to be in place in the shortest time possible.
Prof. Marwanga: We need to establish the KENIA structures as quickly as possible and appoint the CEO and senior staff to set the policy running. It is very important that we move quickly to establish this Agency and get it up and running in developing and managing the national innovation system.
We congratulate Prof. Marwanga on this new appointment and wish him and his team the best as they go about setting up this critical Agency for the country.