Launch of the Policy Support Facility (PSF) with EASTECO: Enhancing Innovation in the Informal Sector at regional level.

The East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO) is set to benefit from the Policy Support Facility (PSF), established by the Secretariat of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS). This service will aid in the development of a regional strategy on Innovation in the informal sector, specifically targeting informal industrial clusters.

The official launch of the PSF service with EASTECO took place online on May 23, 2024. The event saw the participation of around 30 members of the consultative team, including senior officials responsible for Science, Technology, and Innovation from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. Key Research & Innovation (R&I) stakeholders, representatives from EASTECO, the OACPS Secretariat, the European Union, and other experts also attended the event.

Innovation in the informal sector holds significant potential to enhance livelihoods and capacities among marginalised communities. All Eastern African countries are currently leveraging industrial clusters to boost competitiveness and economic growth. However, these informal industrial clusters face challenges such as weak connections with knowledge generators and the underutilisation of the informal sector’s potential for knowledge production and dissemination. A regional strategy is thus crucial to promote innovation and facilitate technology transfer in the informal sector.

The regional strategy will aim to stimulate innovative activities within the informal sector, thereby enhancing its contribution to formal economic development. It will consider the diverse research and innovation ecosystems of EASTECO member states.

The ceremony was inaugurated by the Deputy Executive Secretary of EASTECO, Mr. Fortunate Muyambi. Key speakers included Dr. Ibrahim Norbert Richard, Assistant Secretary-General of the OACPS; Ms. Ariane Labat, Head of Unit for Science, Technology, Innovation, and Digitalisation at DG INTPA; Dr. Sylvance Okoth, Executive Secretary of EASTECO; and Prof. Tom Peter Migun Ogada, Chair of the PSF service with EASTECO.

In his welcome remarks, Dr. Ibrahim Norbert Richard emphasised the collaborative nature of the initiative, stating, “We have the opportunity to build a dynamic strategy that not only embodies the collective aspirations of the region but also addresses the unique challenges and specific priorities of each member country. By joining forces and sharing perspectives, we can shape an innovative and inclusive strategy.”

Ms. Ariane Labat expressed the EU’s enthusiasm for EASTECO’s focus on innovation in the informal sector, noting its significant economic impact. She also highlighted the successful outcomes of the PSF in other countries, including the establishment of national policies and strategies in Mauritania and Guinea and the creation of a national R&I fund in The Gambia.

Supportive messages were also delivered by Mr. Felly Kalisa from the National Council for Science and Technology of Rwanda and Mrs. Judith Odhiambo from Kenya, both emphasising the importance and benefits of a regional innovation strategy for the informal sector.

Dr. Sylvance Okoth, representing EASTECO, underscored the significance of the PSF service, which aligns with the East African Regional Innovation and Technology Transfer Strategy. He expressed high expectations for the initiative’s outputs to address the challenges faced by industrial players in the informal sector and to foster growth and linkages between the informal and formal sectors. “We expect that the outputs of this initiative will be practical enough to address challenges faced by industrial players in the informal sector. We also expect that the outputs will help harness opportunities for growth and enhance linkages between the informal sector and the formal productive sectors, therefore contributing immensely to the economies of the partner states”.

The PSF service launched today is the twelfth of its kind, following previous initiatives in Lesotho, Mauritania, The Gambia, Timor-Leste, Kenya, Cameroon, Guinea, the Indian Ocean Commission, and a Mutual Learning Exchange on building nationals R&I funds. The services started in January 2021, by the EU-funded OACPS Research and Innovation Programme, to enhance the quality and efficiency of R&I policy systems.

Please also visit the page of our website dedicated to this PSF service.