Empowering Communities to Tackle their Challenges by Harnessing Science and Technology

Presenter: Dr Alexis Habiyaremye, Human Science Research Council


Science, technology and innovations are by now almost axiomatically recognised as the primary source for solutions addressing developmental challenges. To build the country’s capacity to provide science and technology-based solutions, countries fund universities and research institutions where scientific and technological knowledge is generated. Quite often, it becomes difficult to transpose the highly specialised knowledge developed by those research institutions into practical solutions to the problem the surrounding communities are facing because of the knowledge asymmetry between knowledge producers and the intended beneficiaries. We then have to deal with the “ivory tower” problem, by which it is meant that the scientific and technological solutions proposed by specialised researchers are not in touch with the real needs of users. Users on the other hand, may have a thorough understanding of the problem to be solved and the intricacies of the user community but not necessarily have the technical knowledge needed to communicate their preferred solutions to the researchers.
The science talk question is therefore: How can the knowledge asymmetry be bridged so that the scientific and technical knowledge developed in specialised institutions become readily usable and transferable to local community members? How can community members be empowered to become co-producers of the knowledge needed to create innovative solutions to their challenges?

Dr Alexis Habiyaremye, African research fellow EPD HSRC, South Africa
Dr Alexis Habiyaremyeis a Senior Research Specialist in the Economic Performance and Development research Programme (EPD) of the Human Sciences Research council. He holds a PhD in the economics and policy studies of technical change from the United Nations University/Maastricht University (Netherlands). Before joining HSRC, he was an assistant professor of economics and political science at Antalya International University (Turkey). He has many years of teaching experience both undergraduate and graduate students at Maastricht University as well as Antalya International University. His research interests include economics of innovation, the role of industrialisation in sustainable employment, technological change, manufacturing productivity and export diversification, innovation capabilities and inclusive development.