Officials at the Kigali-based East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO) on Friday implored visiting members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) to help with its inadequate funding challenge.
They requested the lawmakers’ advocacy in strengthening the Commission and for more investments in science, technology and innovation (STI) as the key drivers and enablers to accelerate and sustain regional socio-economic transformation.
The lawmakers, who on Friday concluded a two-week on-spot assessment of institutions, installations and facilities of the EAC on the Central Corridor and Northern Corridor, visited the EASTECO headquarters in Kigali to get a firsthand assessment of the institution.
Its overall objective is to promote and coordinate the development, management and application of science and technology to support regional integration and socio-economic development. But according to officials, it fears it will not meet its targets.
Dr. Saidi Kibeya, the institution’s deputy Executive Secretary, Friday told EALA members that inadequate funds and lack of staff for programmatic activities were key challenges facing the institution.
“The budget proved to be inadequate to cover major activities. Delay in achieving the EASTECO mandate as per specific objectives in the Protocol [of the latter’s establishment] due to lack of technical or professional staff is another challenge.”
The protocol on establishment of EASTECO was signed on April 18, 2007.
Funded by equal contributions from EAC partner states, the Commission’s 2017/18 budget is $1.5 million.
Burundi has not made any contribution in the current financial year but is said to be clearing arrears. New EAC member, South Sudan, too has not yet injected any money or staff in the Commission. Delays in funding also led to under-absorption in most cases.
Luckily, however, in February, they received an extra $200,000 grant from the African Development Bank (AfDB).