Promoting African Intellectualism, Higher Education, Research, Expertise & Creativity
On January 15, 2016, Prof. Dr. Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa, the Minister of State for Higher Education, Science and Technology addressed a session of the London School of Economics Africa Centre’s Programme for African Leadership Forum-Uganda 2016, at Speke Resort and Conference Center Munyonyo in Kampala. Following is a slightly edited version of the speech.
- the year 2010
To begin, I invite you to recall that the year 2010 was the watershed year of the Golden Jubilee of Africa’s Independence –fifty years from 1960. It came with palpable optimism about Africa’s future. According to the words of the continent’s Sudanese-born Dr. Mo Ibrahim “The year 2010 is a milestone year for Africa. The World Cup was hosted on African soil for the first time. Seventeen African countries marked their 50th year of Independence. And we marked 10 years of pursuing the Millennium Development Goals. These events present a great opportunity to take stock of the continent, where we are and where we are going. The picture is largely optimistic…”
Africa’s Diaspora, on the other hand, marked 2010 with a clarion call for the continent’s economic and social transformation. No one articulated this better than the former Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity, Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim of Tanzania, when, in his keynote address in New York: AFRICA IN THE NEXT FIFTY YEARS, on the occasion of AFRICA VISION AWARDS, said: “……some of our leaders in Africa, including the former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, have characterized the 21st Century as Africa’s century. I believe that this is possible, achievable and most of all necessary. This should be our clarion call…Economic and social transformation is a prerequisite condition”.
On the Science, Technology and Innovations front, which, I must confess, is my area of passion, expertise and experience, the year 2010 witnessed the publication of An African Manifesto for Science, Technology and Innovations by the African Technology Policy Studies Network in Nairobi, Kenya, under the direction of none other than the Kenyan-born Professor Calestous Juma of Harvard University. This Manifesto was very sober and realistic in its reflection on Africa’s marginalization in the global Science, Technology and Innovation agenda. It sought to awaken and rally Africa towards the immediate commencement of the development and harnessing of Science, Technology and Innovation. Further, it made strong pleas for Africa to:
- Invest in Science, Technology and Innovation for her Women and Youth;
- Develop a new system of Science, Technology and Innovation incentives, and
- Build Africa’s sustainable Science, Technology and Innovation infrastructures, linked to industrialization and ultimately towards Africa’s sustainable development.
While the Manifesto was blunt about Africa’s Science, Technology and Innovation deficits, it was nonetheless optimistic about the future of Africa’ Science, Technology and Innovations!
- The YEAR 2010 in Uganda
For Uganda 2010 was a watershed year, too, in three important ways.
First, we hosted the historic 15th African Union (AU) Summit, right here in Speke Resort and Conference Center, under the theme: “Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa.”
Second, in April, the National Resistance Movement Government launched the 1st National Development Plan (2010-2015) for the implementation of Uganda Vision 2040 of “a transformed Ugandan society from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country within 30 years”. This being barely two years before our own Golden Jubilee of Independence (1962-2012), it captured part of Uganda’s national reflection of our 50 years of Independence. It also provided our national ‘forward-look’ into Uganda’s future over the next 50 years of the twenty-first Century!
Significantly, thisFirst National Development Plan recognized Higher Education as a critical driver of Uganda’s expected social and economic transformation, following nearly two decades of lying in abeyance on the advice of International Monetary Fund and World Bank! It prioritized Higher Education as:
“….the heart of education as well as the core of national innovation and development system…“
Further the it noted that:
“Universities are the core of any national development system because they produce not only the knowledge to drive economies but also the skilled human resources required to do the job”.
Third, the year 2010 was important for Uganda, in that the President, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, established the Presidential Initiative to support Science, Technology and Innovations at Makerere University by directing Government to ring-fence UGX 25 billion (approximately US$10million at the time) over a span five years, 2010-2015, in tandem with first National Development Plan!
This Presidential Initiative to support Science, Technology and Innovationsat Makerere University unleashed world-class talent among students in the College of Engineering, Design Art and Technology. Together with their mentors they produced an electric car, the KIIRA Electric Vehicle, a proof-of-concept, to demonstrate that they had the skill, capability, capacity, passion and discipline to boldly take on innovations. It was launched on 24th November 2011 by His Excellency the President of Uganda and I would like to let you know that I have been privileged to be associated with the Project as its Principal Investigator!
Thereafter, with an annual budgetary provision of UGX 10 billion since 2012, Government is continuing to support the process of commercialization of the Kiira EV Project through the formation of KIIRA Motors Corporation, whose business case was launched on 7th December 2015, with expectation to roll out the first Ugandan manufactured vehicle in 2018.
On the wider African scene, in August 2012, the same year of Uganda’s Golden Jubilee, Prof.Calestous Juma was appointed the Co-Chair of the African Union High Level Advisory Panel on Science, Technology and Innovations.This Panel has since updated the 2007 AFRICA SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CONSOLIDATED PLAN OF ACTION into a version that was approved by the African Union Heads of State Summit in June 2014 as the African Union’s 10-year (2014-2024) Science, Technology and Innovations Strategy: “ON THE WINGS OF INNOVATION”. It serves as a major plank for the post-2010 Africa Independence Golden Jubilee Agenda, commonly referred to as the African Union Agenda 2063. Its Call to Action, No. 67 (b), is pertinent to our discussion this morning, because it aims to:
“Catalyze an Education and Skills revolution and actively promote science, technology, research and innovation, to build knowledge, human resources, capabilities and skills for the African century…Build and expand an African knowledge society through transformation and investments in universities, science, technology, research and innovation…”
In this connection, it is instructive to note here that in 2012 too, the London School of Economics established the Programme for African Leadership (PfAL):
“with the vision of bringing together a network of ethical, effective and African leaders, who are committed to promoting economic development and social and political progress on the continent”.
Thus, Africa,Uganda and London School of Economics are on the same bandwidth with regard to the PROMOTION OF AFRICAN INTELLECTUALISM, HIGHER EDUCATION, RESEARCH, EXPERTISE and CREATIVITY! Therefore Africa, Uganda and London School of Economics are reading from the same script! But Uganda and London School of Economics have a much older history. Let me to relate this briefly.
- THE MAKERERE UNIVERSITY AND LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF LONDON RELATIONSHIP – 1949-1963
In 1949 Makerere College, hitherto the only College of Higher Education in East and Central Africa entered into a special relationship with the University of London – of which London School of Economics is a part. In this way, Makerere College became Makerere University College of East Africa and retained the special relationship with the University of London.
With this special relationship from 1949 onwards, Makerere University students, who would come from all over East and Central Africa, would then be admitted for studies leading to University of London degrees. The first lot to graduate with degrees of the University of London completed in 1953, followed by the second lot in 1954.
But I am here interested in the 3rd lot of Makerere University College students who graduated in 1955. Why? Because that year witnessed the first person to graduate with 1st First Class Bachelor of Arts (Honors) Degree of the University of London in the history of Makerere University! That African student received a postgraduate merit scholarship to any British University of his choice that same year of 1955. He chose London School of Economics, which was and is part of the University of London system, although he could have gone to Oxford or Cambridge Universities, if he so wanted. In 1958, he graduated with a Master of Science Degree in Public Finance (as a post-graduate degree) with Distinction! It is said he was the first African to graduate with Distinction at London School of Economics!
He returned to Makerere University College the same year 1958, and was appointed Assistant Lecturer in Economics, thereby becoming one of the first African Lecturers at Makerere University.
Recently, in 2013, I read an interesting article by Joachim Buwembo, one of our well-known East African journalists, in The East African Newspaper, about this “African and his London School of Economics Degree with Distinction” as follows:
“If you know someone from around Nyeri in the Mount Kenya area aged 70 and above, ask them to tell the story of the Kenyan boy who damaged some European intelligence-measuring machine with his brain power. The legend, which started in the late 1950s, says when the lad had completed his studies at the famous Makerere University, he proceeded to Europe where great men were amazed at his brilliance. They decided to check his brain with a machine they used to measure the brainiest of their own. They connected the terminals to the Kenyan boy’s head and the machines blew up—the boy’s giant brain had overloaded it.
The boy’s name was….er…Mwai Kibaki!
After working as one of the first Africans to teach at the old East African University of Makerere, the said Kibaki returned to Kenya to serve the independence government in key cabinet portfolios under two successive extremely powerful presidents for about two decades before joining opposition politics. Finally at the end of 2002, he became President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, half a century after the legend of the short-circuited intelligence machines of Europe was born.
With the buck stopping at him, was Kibaki going to prove the legend right? By many accounts, the gentleman has delivered. Ten years ago, Kibaki inherited an economy on its knees….Without delivering many intellectual lectures—he did enough of that in his days as a University don—nor trying to sound like a philosopher king; Mzee Kibaki has fixed most of the major economic issues of his country during his allocated mandate of 10 years. But above all, the country is on the verge of a real economic take-off, powered by internal dynamics of its people’s creativity and resilience!”
It is therefore no surprise that as a distinguished alma mater, Makerere University has honored His Excellency Mwai Kibaki – the outstanding “African of London School of Economics Distinction” alumnus, with the US$ 50 million His Excellency Mwai Kibaki Presidential Library Project in Makerere University! This was launched on the 13th February 2015 with His Excellency Mwai Kibaki himself as the Guest of Honor! It comprises a US$40 million Presidential Library,which isproposed to be the largestEconomics Library in Africa.It will also hold the East African His Excellency Mwai Kibaki Center for Leadership, Public Finance and Policy.
The US$50 million His Excellency Mwai Kibaki Presidential Library Project will also include aUS$10 million His Excellency Mwai Kibaki Endowed Chair in Economics in Makerere University.This is proposed to be housed in the Presidential Library but resident in His Excellency Mwai Kibaki School of Economics, in the College of Business and Managements Sciences (CoBAMS). This scheme was also unveiled on the same day of the high profile launch, by His Excellency Mwai Kibaki himself, accompanied by our Vice President His Excellency Edward Kiwanuka Sekandi, representing His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
His Excellency Mwai Kibaki’s Inaugural Public Lecture on that day, 13th February 2015, was very much reflective of his London School of Economics intellectual heritage. I think he must have anticipated today’s inaugural London School of Economics Programme for African Leadership Forum – Uganda 2016!
Its abridged title, published in The Observer, Kampala, 22nd February 2015, was“INTELLECTUALS HAVE A LOT TO OFFER EAST AFRICA”, was about promoting African Intellectualism! Permit me to quote an excerpt to demonstrate the connection:
“It is fitting, therefore, that Makerere—an outstanding epicenter of our region’s intellectual excellence- is the venue from where we are interrogating the place and role of intellectuals as assets to the society…More recently, some scholars have categorized intellectuals into three groups – the public, private and the duo-intellectual. Irrespective of the categories, enlightened men and women who exhibit superlative mastery of their respective disciplines are, no doubt, invaluable assets to the society…
For societies to prosper, a firm foundation expressly laid to enhance capacity for the wellbeing of people whilst upholding rules and incentives that strengthen socio-economic structures of the society is critical. Human intellect and the quest for the integration of both human endeavor and spirit are, therefore, means of not just survival, but of excellence in so far as improving the quality of life is concerned.
Naturally, Universities, Makerere included, are abodes of excellence in which ideas become part of the process of creating opportunities for prosperity. Demanded of this excellence is the ability to unpack the dynamics that determine the direction, dimension, decisions and actions that make life on earth more bearable, and human efforts in general, more rewarding. That is why it is important to appreciate the efforts African Universities have made so far”.
- LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS PARTNERSHIP PROPOSAL WITH MAKERERE UNIVERSITY IN THE FRAMEWORK OF HIS EXCELLENCY MWAI KIBAKI PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY PROJECT
With the forgoing, I would like to submit a bold Proposal for a London School of Economics Partnership with Makerere University within a framework of His Excellency Mwai Kibaki Presidential Project Library. In this regard I would like to note how interesting it is to find that the former Makerere University Chancellor, Prof. George Mondo Kagonyera, in his document on His Excellency Mwai Kibaki Presidential Library, had proposed a partnership between London School of Economics and Makerere University in respect of His Excellency Mwai Kibaki Endowed Chair in Economics in the following words:
“Makerere University will seek international accreditation for the Chair through partnership with the London School of Economics, His Excellency Mwai Kibaki’s postgraduate alma mater. This is all the more logical since London School of Economics is also part of the University of London with which Makerere University had a historical Special Relationship that began in 1949. This proposed partnership via His Excellency Mwai Kibaki Chair in Economics is consistent with London School of Economics’ Africa Initiative – a long term programme designed both to re-invigorate African research at London School of Economics and to put Africa at the center of the social sciences and in the global public spotlight, … [in particular with]…London School of Economics Chair in African Development which was created in 2009 and is based in the Department of International Development. Its creation follows a powerful speech ‘Africa and its position in the World Today’ by President Nelson Mandela in 2000, in which he spoke of the connections between London School of Economics and Africa and pointed to the potential for education to deliver a renaissance on the continent.”
In a subsequent letter to His Excellency Mwai Kibaki, after the high profile 13thFebruary 2015 launch, copied to me among others, Prof. George Mondo Kagonyera requested His Excellency Mwai Kibaki to appeal to “Dr. Donald Kaberuka”, who is a distinguished African Economist and Banker; “to accept becoming the 1st Holder of the Mwai Kibaki Distinguished Chair in Economics in Makerere University, say, for a starting period of 5 years”. Furthermore, Prof. George Mondo Kagonyera appealed to His Excellency Mwai Kibaki“to also request London School of Economics, your post-graduate alma mater, to give due recognition or dual appointment [at both LSE and Makerere] to “Dr. Donald Kaberuka” as an internationally credentialed and globally competitive Professor of Economics and 1st Holder of His Excellency MwaiKibaki Distinguished Chair in Economics at Makerere University.”
4.0 A CALL FOR A NEW AFRICAN ECONOMICS TOWARDS AFRICA’S INDUSTRIALIZATION
In view of the foregoing, therefore, I would like to conclude my address with a call for a new African Economics towards robust promotion of industrialization. I would like to add, too, that given London School of Economics and Makerere University’s historical linkages, the two could or should scale up their partnership, as proposed by Prof. George Mondo Kagonyera, the former Chancellor of Makerere University. This could or should be around the His Excellency MwaiKibaki Distinguished Chair in Economics, and His Excellency Mwai Kibaki Presidential Library Project.
As such, it could or should become a world-class Center of Excellence on the African continent. Its main goal will be to churn out new African Economics and Economists who will be robust in promoting Africa’s industrialization and sustainable development! I make this call because of the recent debate between “Africa rising” versus “Africa not rising” – after all!
Rick Rowden of Foreign Policy Magazine wrote a blunt assessment of “Africa Rising”. This was recently reproduced in The Observer, Kampala, Wednesday, January 6-7, 2016, under the title, “Here’s why ‘Africa rising’ is just a myth”. Rowden asserted that Africa could not be rising without industrialization. Why so? It is because Africa’s leaders:
“drank the Kool-Aid of free markets and free trade proffered by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund andthe best university economics departments over the last 30 years. Of particular harm has been the insistence that African countries forswear the use of industrial policies such as temporary trade protection, subsidized credit, preferential taxes, and publically supported R&D. As a result, African countries have abandoned these key tools, which they could have used to build up their domestic manufacturing sectors. Free market advocates told African countries that such “state intervention” in the economy usually does more harm than good, because governments shouldn’t be in the business of trying to “pick winners”, and that this is best left to the market. Africans were told to simply privatize, liberalize, deregulate, and get the so-called economic fundamentals right. The free market would take care of the rest. But this advice neglects the actual history of how rich countries themselves have effectively used industrial policies for 400 years, beginning with the U.K. and Europe and ending with the “four tigers” of East Asia and China”.
As I conclude, I will not of course, for reasons of protocol constraints, ask whether London School of Economics Department has been one of the “best University Economics Departments over the last 30 years”, in the context of Rowden’s articulation above. Rather, I will call on London School of Economics to scale-up her partnership with Makerere University, starting with the College of Business and Management Sciences’ Presidential Library Project.
May I challenge London School of Economics to consider Makerere University, the oldest and premier University in East and Central Africa, which has had a special historical relationship with the University of London, to be its secondAfrican Global Institutional Partner? This would follow the London School of Economics’ Global Institutional Partnership with the University of Cape Town, South Africa, established in 2010, the year of Africa’s Golden Jubilee of Independence! Such a Makerere University and London School Economics Global Institutional Partnership would be a new and world-class Center of Excellence in Africa. It would churn out new African Economics and Economists, who will be robust about supporting Africa’s twenty first century agenda – industrialization.
Clearly, such a Makerere University and London School of Economics Global Institutional Partnership would be a real promoter, right here onthe African continent, of real AFRICAN INTELLECTUALISM, HIGHER EDUCATION, RESEARCH, EXPERTISE and CREATIVITY!
I thank you.
Dr. Stevens Tikodri is the Minister of State for Higher Education, Science and TechnologyRepublic of Uganda
[Dr. Mohammed “Mo” Ibrahim, op-ed, New Vision, Kampala, Wednesday, October 6, 2010]
Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, AFRICA IN THE NEXT FIFTY YEARS, Keynote Address at the occasion of AFRICA VISION AWARDS, New York City, NY, USA, 20th May 2010]
AU Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, retrieved from <http//www.agenda2063.au.int>.
Joachim Buwembo, “Let’s bid farewell to Mwai Kibaki, the politician once known as Brainiac” in The East African, February 2-8, 2013, page 22.
Prof. George Mondo Kagonyera, His ExcellencyMwaiKibaki Presidential Library in Makerere University: Draft High Profile Launch & Inauguration Trajectory, December 2014-December 2015, 15th October 2014, page 9.