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Africa Evidence Network I 2023 Conference: What Ugandan Minister Beatrice Akori said before the official start

(Last Updated On: 14 September 2023)

Entebbe I Uganda is hosting over 300 delegates from more than 10 countries in Africa for the Africa Evidence Network 2023 Conference. Ending on Friday, September 15, the conference has been convened under the theme: “Coming together to build a knowledge base for evidence–informed decision–making practice.”

Delegates from Cameroon, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria; Tanzania and Uganda, among other countries on the continent, are participating in the three-day event taking place at Protea Hotel Marriot, Entebbe.

Among many topics, the conference on day one (September 13) discussed at length “Celebrating the Africa Evidence Network: Why Relationships Matter”, “Use of Monitoring & Evaluative Evidence in Development Planning and Budgeting Processes”, “Institutionalizing Evidence Use: Sharing Lessons and Future Directions”, among others.

Before the conference started officially, the Guest of Honor – State Minister for Economic Monitoring in the Office of the President of Uganda, also the Agago district Woman MP, Beatrice Akello Akori spoke. TND News was at the conference and brings you what the minister said preceding the official discussion.

“It’s an honour for us in Uganda to host this Evidence Conference. I understand several of these conferences have been taking place in South Africa over the past decades and to this effect, I would like to thank the organizers for choosing Uganda as your host.

“I was told you have been confined in South Africa but we are really lucky as the Pearl of Africa to host this conference outside South Africa.

“I’m particularly happy that as a person who uses evidence to inform cabinet submission to see that we gather here in this conference to discuss topical issues on using information and other forms of evidence for decision making.

“In Uganda, I’m glad I have a team whom I work with who inform cabinet and executive on the evidence we have to transform our society economically. I’m so grateful.

“This conference is held at a time when the world is increasingly threatened by common social, economic and health crises such as worsening food insecurity. In Uganda, we have been hit seriously by prolonged drought; rain has just started raining… changing weather patterns and pandemic all leading to widening inequalities and inequities within communities. This is more true on the African continent.

“This conference provides an opportunity for you delegates to deliberate on what needs to be done differently based on evidence to make Africa safer for us, for our children and the future generations. So, your being here is very, very important.

“As you are aware, we live in a time where access to information is defining our existence like access to information in Uganda is a right. One may even say ‘We are experiencing information overload.’ I, therefore, salute you for driving the idea of pushing for utilizing the information and data to inform policy processes for evidence-based decisions.

“Kofi Annan once said and I quote: “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating” of which we young people have come out to give us information to liberate Africa.” As a government, we are really, really excited about this. The Covid-19 pandemic which is still very fresh in our minds revealed and confirmed our vulnerabilities as Africans and the need to invest in research, data and information to address our social-economic challenges.

“We need more research and generation of evidence on our indigenous knowledge in addressing some of our health challenges. Challenges cannot be underrated. At times we cut and paste – that is why some of the ideas we come up with failed but now we are looking at how we can magnify our indigenous knowledge. It’s amazing.

“I want to challenge you that at the end of this conference, we would have come up with deliberate, actionable resolutions on the utilization of indigenous knowledge. There are missed opportunities when we do not use what is readily available to us locally. Africa, we are very rich but we tend to look outside Africa more. This is the time we need to think within the box.

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Some of the delegates across Africa. AEN photo.

“Furthermore, this Evidence Conference brings together policymakers, scientists (like me. I am a scientist – a chemist by profession. I did chemical engineering) and Civil Society Organizations to engage and collaborate on best practices for using information in policy processes. We have been discussing with Madam Rhona some of the policies that we need to review as a country and I’m glad that my Directorate is signing an MOU to work with them.

“It’s important that in the spirit of Pan-Africanism, we learn together and support each other to build a knowledge base for evidence-informed-decision-making for Africa as a continent… The government of Uganda established a framework for oversight monitoring and evaluation for the executive known as “Apex Platform” in my ministry. One for the first in Africa to be signed in the Office of the President and Department of M&E under the Parliament of Uganda. We are about to release a report, The government has been implementing many interventions for commercialization in agriculture for the past 13 years.

Also read: Scientists call for investment in climate change and health nexus research in Africa

“So, through this apex platform we have scrutinized all these interventions, we have seen what has worked, what has not worked and why it has not worked and we have come out with actionable resolutions or recommendations to inform the executive on what need to be done this time as we are implementing commercialization of agriculture.

“Our President General Yoweri Kaguta Museveni guided us that there are four sectors driving Uganda’s economy of which commercialization is one of them. So, we are looking at all interventions. We have already looked at them – innovation under commercialization. So, this apex is digging for evidence of what has worked, what has not worked and what needs to be done.

“Allow me to recognize Professor Nelson Sewankambo and Dr Rhona Mijumbi-Deve (Head of the Policy Unit, Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Programme and AEN Co-chair), among other researchers here with us for their unrelenting efforts towards evidence generation and sharing. We really want to thank you so much for this work you are doing.

Also read: Interview: Minister of Economic Monitoring, Akori on the tasks, PDM, predecessor and more 

“I commend the Uganda Centre for Rapid Evidence for the valid information in a timely manner to support informed decision-making, I applaud your every effort in trying to make a better world for us all through data, information and research.

“I once again welcome you to this conference and the Pearl of Africa, I invite you all to take time off after the conference, and enjoy the beauty of this country. We have so many national parks, about 10 of them. You can choose to go to one. We have historical sites and so many places you can go to. After the conference feel free. Thank you so much, I declare the Evidence Conference 2023 open, For God and My Country.”

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