By Dr. Melckzedeck Osore and Mr. Paul Kimanzi
Dr. James Mwaluma, KMFRI Director for Marine and Coastal Systems presents highlights of KMFRI researches to NACOSTI Committee on the opening day.
The mandate of NACOSTI is to regulate, assure quality and advise the Kenya Government on matters related to Science Technology and Innovation (STI). Its regulatory framework is embedded in the Kenya Constitution 2010, Science and Technology Act 2013, and Legal Notices nos. 106, 107 and 108.When the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) was established in 1977 following the folding of its predecessor the National Council for Science and Technology (NCST), its first research institution to register was KMFRI immediately after its formation in 1979. Coincidentally, when NACOSTI embarked on its mission to inspect, monitor and evaluate research institutions in Kenya in 2021, KMFRI was its first port of call.
KMFRI and NACOSTI have developed very cordial working relation over the years and they share common partners among them the National Research Foundation (NRF) - sharing similar aspirations for the national research priorities of Kenya. On various occasions, senior staff of both institutions have shared membership roles in various local, regional and global fora for addressing matters of research and development. Also at the national level, KMFRI and NACOSTI shared similar aspirations in popularizing science and technology in the community.
Objectives of NACOSTI
· provide timely advisory services to National and County;
· Governments on Science, Technology and Innovation;
· Popularise and promote Science, Technology and Innovation;
· Register and accredite research institutions natrionally;
· License all research conducted;
· Monitor, Evaluate and Assess Impact of Research
The fourday NACOSTI Review Mission held at KMFRI’s Dolphin Hall commenced on 22nd June 2021 and was conducted by a team of 8 experts. They were led by the Chairman Prof. Raphael Munavu, Co-Chairman Prof. Ratemo Michieka and Mr. Boniface Wanyama Head of Research, Accreditation and Quality Assurance, who represented the Director General of NACOSTI.
The activities included reviewing the organizational and institutional structure of KMFRI and evaluating research projects undertaken in the institute in consultation with relevant research scientists. The team made a tour of KMFRI and inspected the facilities and infrastructure on the ground. They reviewed all the documents provided by KMFRI and held consultations with the staff responsible for various sections.
The team observed that KMFRI has a policy on succession management, and noted that the policy should be implemented alongside the human resource policy documents for continued service delivery and sustainability. Evidence of KMFRI engagement in Corporate Social Responsibility was also availed to the team. Other documents evaluated by the team included the Strategic Plan, Workplan 2019/2020/2021, Research Policy, Service Charter, Human Resource Manual, Intellectual Property Rights Policy, Standard Operating Procedures and Manuals, among others.
Outcome and initial recommendations
The Committee encouraged KMFRI to expand linkage with tertiary institutions in the region, especially in their core mandate. The Committee observed that the Institute has a wide array of movable and immobile fixed assets that should be documented for purposes of sharing nationally.
The committee encouraged KMFRI to seek research licenses from NACOSTI to undertake projects that require authorizations as per STI Act, 2013. It is commendable that most of the research projects are conducted through partnerships and collaborations that involve universities, government agencies, community-based organizations and development partners. Furthermore, the collaborators and partners are not only drawn from within Kenya, but also from the eastern Africa region, Africa and around the globe. However, partnership with industry, which is critical in the commercialization of research products was observed to be minimal. This linkage needs to be improved and expanded as soon as possible.
On completion of the exercise, the committee presented a draft Exit Report and commended KMFRI on the following outstanding attributes:
- Available State of the art facilities in the laboratory, including the museum;
- Installed solar panels to manage electricity bills;
- Established water desalination plant to cut down on operational costs;
- Full cooperation from all the staff during the evaluation;
- Timely presentation of all the documents requested and availability of senior staff for consultation;
- KMFRI is in compliance with Kenya’s Big 4 National Agenda, AU Agenda 64 and SDGs.
KMFRI is now expected to commence working on a road map to implement the recommendations based on the Exit Report pending submission of the comprehensive evaluation report from NACOSTI. The Exit Report was endorsed by the Committee’s Chair and Co-Chair on Behalf of NACOSTI, and the Centre Director of Mombasa Station on behalf of the Director General of KMFRI.
Co-Chairman of the Review Process Prof. Raphael Munavu (L) hands over the Exit Report to Dr. Erick Okuku, Mombasa Centre Director