Cabinet Secretary for Youth affairs and sports Ababu Namwamba has asked researchers in Kenyan institutions to commercialize their innovative ideas in order to reduce youth unemployment rates in Kenya.

Speaking during the Commercialization and Entrepreneurial Leaders’ Summit 2023 held at Pride Inn Paradise in Mombasa County, the CS said that Kenya does not have a shortage of ideas, but a huge gap on monetization of the ideas.

The two-day summit organized by Kenya National Innovation Agency (KENIA) brought together national government leaders, University Vice chancellors, Institutional leaders and corporate entities with an agendum of investing on innovation.

Vice Chancellors of Universities in Kenya and CS Ababu Namwamba during commercialization and Entrepreneurial Leaders’ Summit 2023 held at Pride Inn Paradise in Mombasa. Photo by Treeza Auma, KTMN.

According to Namwamba, Kenya is committed to fostering youth entrepreneurship and innovation through the program dubbed Talanta Hela, which commercializes ideas to money.

He added that the Kenya Kwanza government is developing the program of innovation and research through its promised manifesto Bottom-up Economic Transformative Agenda (BETA).

“It is high time corporates started spending big on research through the institutions and invest in the innovations if we want our people to put food in their mouths”, Namwamba said.

He urged youths and researchers to revitalize the available natural resources like fisheries as a means of making money.

“There is no way we can deal with food insecurity if we can’t get youths; the energetic feeders to embark on food production”, he said.

Namwamba called upon collaboration amongst industries, institutional leaders and students in the universities to turn their creativity and innovation to sustainable livelihoods.

KENIA Chief Executive Officer Dr. Tonny Omwansa said that the innovation agency is working with the state department of university education and research as well as the state department of youth affairs to support commercialization in the universities.

He said that they are committed to help students improve their policies, funding culture and training incubation not only to innovate more ideas but also to monetize them.

“We have launched two programs, one of them called institutional support program. We started off with five universities and now we have added 11 more to support their system”, Omwansa said

He said that they are focused on how they would work together with universities on how to turn the ideas found out of research to money and to link the innovations to industries.

“The other initiative is about how you make research commercially binding, because when you are doing research you know you are collecting data, take it through a commercial hypothetical process but when you are thinking about business, you are thinking about customers”, he added.

Permanent Secretary state department for higher education and research Dr. Beatrice Muganda said that the government set aside a budget of Ksh.300 million for research to strengthen the innovation agenda.

“If research findings are not commercialized to provide opportunities for our youths, then the research does not really benefit in terms of improving the quality of life in the whole country”, Muganda said.

The summit occurs as Kenya anticipates hosting the dynamic Kenya Innovation Week 2023, which will see 56 commonwealth countries merge to showcase innovative ideas on 27th November to 1st December 2023 in Nairobi.

By Treeza Auma

Treeza Auma is a Digital Content Producer and founder of KTMN She is also Television journalist at Kenya News Agency and Leadership Accelerator at Women in News.

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