OPENING REMARKS BY PROF. LUCY IRUNGU, THE VICE-CHANCELLOR AND PROFESSOR OF ENTOMOLOGY, MACHAKOS UNIVERSITY, DURING A SEMINAR ON JUNE 26TH, 2018 AT THE MACHAKOS UNIVERSITY HOTEL.

THEME: Leveraging Statistical Knowledge for National Research and Development.

Salutations

  • Mr. Zachary Mwangi, the Director General, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics
  • Deputy Vice-Chancellors
  • Registrars 
  • Prof. Kepher Makambi, the Key Presenter in today’s seminar
  • Deans of Schools
  • Directors of various Directorates
  • Heads of Departments and Sections
  • Our Post Graduate Students

 

Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning. I am glad to join my deputy vice-chancellors in welcoming you all to this forum to exchange ideas on the place of statistics and statisticians in the pursuance of development agenda, through research and development. I warmly welcome Mr. Zachary Mwangi, the Director General, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics to Machakos University and I thank you most sincerely for accepting to come and officially open this seminar. Mr. Mwangi has expertise in official statistics, strategic management, surveys and censuses implementation, public policy analysis, budgeting, and project management, among others. I am grateful that he has come to share his expertise and experiences with us. Mr. Mwangi, once again, welcome to Machakos University.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I acknowledge and appreciate Prof. Kepher Makambi from Georgetown University (USA) for choosing to come to Machakos University on a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program. Professor Makambi is in the University to lead and facilitate initiatives to reform curriculum with regard to quality and relevance of degree programmes in the school of Pure and Applied Sciences and the School of Health Sciences. He is helping to develop, mentor and enhance courses in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, public and community health which he started on May 21st 2018 and will finish on July 20th 2018. I once again welcome you to Machakos University and continue to wish you a happy and fruitful stay.

 

Dear Participants,
Coming to the gist of today’s seminar, Leveraging Statistical Knowledge for National Research and Development, first I would like to mention that Statistics has been underscored as a key development tool. Cognizant of this fact, the subsidiary body of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the Joint African Conference of Planners, Statisticians, and Demographers initiated “The African Statistics Day” in 1990. This day is celebrated every year on the 18th day of November in order to increase awareness about the important role statistics plays in all aspects of social and economic development in Africa. Perhaps, in the days to come, we may have to be organizing our university seminars to coincide with the African Statistics Day, and if not we just have to mark the day in our university.
Having research as one of our core mandate, statistics is our lifeblood engine and we need to celebrate it. It is therefore a pleasure for me to once again welcome you all to this seminar on the theme: Leveraging Statistical Knowledge for National Research and Development. It is gratifying to note that the theme of this seminar broadly points to the fact that statistical knowledge is the fulcrum of informative knowledge that research produces for national development.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Anil Arora, Chief Statistician of Canada once noted, and I quote:“..The world of information has transformed dramatically, and continues to do so at an ever faster pace. The data industry has been expanding at breakneck speed. Data providers are multiplying, traditional entities are redefining themselves and their business models based on data, and a growing number of businesses are engaged in data analytics and big data trying to help many cope and thrive in this data revolution. Make no mistake about it, we are in the midst of a data revolution, and data are in huge demand…”
We need to note as scholars, researchers and as university that, that methods and tools to analyze and gather data are constantly evolving, making more and more information available for use in real time. Innovation is pushing every sector of the economy and society. Methodologies for data linkage, integration and anonymization are quickly evolving, as are machine learning techniques and concrete applications of artificial intelligence. All these require data, and data provision is the anchorage of statistics, hence the need to leverage this knowledge. This means that whether you are writing your thesis for examination to earn a degree like our postgraduate students present here today, or doing applied or basic research as most of us do, you need to be abreast of trends in research, data and statistical evolutions and revolutions.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to mention that keeping yourself abreast of trends that I have mentioned, demands that you befriend technology. As once mentioned by a Tanzanian Minister, it is in the process of generating quality statistics that technologies are required to strengthen the national statistical systems. New technologies and strengthened national statistical systems are therefore able to assist in the development of informed policies and allow decision makers to take better, evidence-based decisions that positively impact people’s welfare and eventually result in better lives. The importance of long-term capacity building for Statisticians cannot be ignored. I strongly believe that it is in appreciation of such thoughts that seminars like this one we are having today are being organized and will continue to be organized all over the world, yesterday, today and in the future.

 

Fellow Researchers,
I know today is not my day, but let me mention that as an entomologist I deal with one of the largest population of living things, insects. I trust that you are all aware that insects are the most populous of living things after plants, ahead of human beings. This implies that insects, as they are high in population, so are they in characteristics and data. Collecting, analyzing, presenting such data is a real challenge, but statistical knowledge brings with it a handy solution. Entomologists have been able to leverage statistical knowledge for their contributions to the national research and development through various ways among them:

1) Partnerships with policy makers: This type of partnership is essential to bring to light new and emerging policy demands and new opportunities for statistical data.
2) Partnerships with data and service providers: These partnerships operate in accordance with the UN Fundamental Principles of Statistics, such as the protection of confidentiality and privacy.
3) Open innovation partnerships: This involves working closely with other organizations that are not the end user, but important in advancing objectives. This type of partnership can benefit with sources of insight, advice, technical and methodological understanding, and innovative approaches to data. Sharing knowledge can create win-win opportunities for the advancement of all partners, focusing on areas such as development of methodologies, tools, new products or new data ecosystems.
4) Co-creation partnerships: In this type of partnership, organizations work with the end-user towards a mutually beneficial outcome. Since the use of official statistics is directly dependent on end-users, improving partnerships with users should be a priority.
I do believe that with emphasis on multi-disciplinary research as it has become the order of the day, other disciplines could benefit by forming partnerships with domains similar to that of entomologists. In fact, as we pursue our research agenda in this university, collaborations and partnerships are the backbone of our endeavors. It is my hope that from this seminar, this will be realized. One thing is that collaborations and partnerships can start at the inter-departmental, intra-school, inter-school and inter-university all the way to being global.
As I have mentioned, today is not my day, and so, last but not the least, Our Chief Guest, Mr. Zachary Mwangi, who is at the helm of Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, I would like to wish you all the best as you prepare for the 2019 Population and Housing Census. Thank you for your dedication and service to our beloved country, Kenya. It is now my pleasure to invite you to address this forum and thereafter, officially open this seminar.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen, and karibu, Mr. Mwangi.