USIU-Africa held the 3rd East African Multidisciplinary Research Conference (EAMARC) from the November 15-17 at the auditorium. This year’s theme -Sustainable development goals; The role of research, innovation and capacity building - dwelt on the  17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by members of the United Nations on September 25, 2015, to “end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity” as part of a global development agenda to be realized over the next fifteen years. The conference received a record number of presentations by researchers from Africa, Asia and North America, focusing on how applied research would assist in meeting the 169 targets of the aspects of the global sustainable development agenda.

DVC - Academic Affairs Amb. Prof Ruthie Rono in delivering the opening remarks highlighted the impact of research on development, noting that “Data-based decision-making, using scientific and tested solutions to adequately address the challenges facing mankind is the path through which we can succeed.”

United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Africa Climate Change Coordinator, Dr. Richard Munang’ in his speech called out to every researcher, innovator and educator to tailor all their efforts to the big enablers of our civilization – agro-industrialization, consolidation of regional markets, expansion of rural infrastructure, enhanced intra-regional connectivity, Africa-centric education and unlocking of domestic financing.

Another highlight of the conference was a presentation by Dr. Katie Simmons (Associate Director – Research, Pew Research Center) who presented a recently conducted survey from the Pew Research Center, of 11 African countries with specific focus on Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

Over 60 percent of citizens of the three nations prioritized healthcare and education above other social issues. There was also deep optimism that there was greater opportunity for personal growth in their own countries as opposed to seeking greener pastures abroad.

However, societal divisions were different in each country – Nigerians were divided among religious lines, South Africans along racial lines, while opinions among Kenyan society have a heavy ethnic bias.

At the closing session, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza stressed the centrality of research for the academic enterprise, the provision of high quality education, and the contribution of universities to sustainable development and national competitiveness. African universities and countries lag behind on all global research indicators and they need to redouble their research capacities and productivity. 

The annual conference brings together academia and practitioners from industry, government and civil society to share and interrogate ideas for purposes of collaboratively developing solutions to existing and emerging societal problems.