DAR-ES-SALAAM, The East African Commission for Science and Technology (EASTECO) will soon establish a single regional educational policy as the sub-regional bloc focuses on introducing the application of science and technology to promote social and economic development.

Permanent secretaries of ministries responsible for East African Community (EAC) Affairs visited the commission’s headquarters in Kigali, Rwanda, last week to analyse a five-year strategic plan and decide on short-term priorities for immediate implementation.

EAC Commission Communication Assistant Richard Irakoze says implementation of the plan would cost an estimated 22 million US dollars. The Kigali meeting also discussed how the amount would be raised through EAC partner states’ statutory contributions, private sector, development partners and other sources.

The head of the Ugandan delegation, Edith N. Mwanje, who is Permanent Secretary in the Ministry responsible for EAC Affairs of Uganda, said it was time the Community introduced the use of science to improve production and create jobs for its younger generation.

We have picked critical areas over the next five years — in areas such as agriculture, agro-processing, energy, e-health and information communication technology (ICT). We have looked at the strategic plan and discussed issues of funding all in with the EAC agenda and we are going to make sure that all member states are working to introduce these and other innovations in all that we do, Mwanje said.

She noted that there were challenges facing the bloc, saying each of the partner states were developing at different levels, with some held back for lack of adequate infrastructure while they were also governed by different regulations, but added that all these problems could be ironed out.

We have to change and take measures to introduce in science and technology in our development approaches but we need adequate funding to the tune of 22 million USD to be mobilized from within and from our partners but each of the partner states will contribute equally, she told journalists.

Mwanje expressed gratitude to the government of Rwanda for hosting EASTECO and for its willingness to provide land to enable the commission to build its own head office there. She emphasized the need for EAC partner states to harmonize their activities and make science and technology a key enabler of socio-economic development”.

EASTECO is a semi-autonomous institution within the EAC mandated to promote and coordinate development, management and application of science, technology and innovation in partner states.