Executive Director, The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS)

Romain Murenzi serves as the executive director of TWAS, The World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries, based in Trieste, Italy. He directs a secretariat that administers some 500 PhD and postdoctoral fellowships per year for scientists from developing countries, plus USD$1.7 million in research grants for individuals and research groups in developing countries. Murenzi also plays a key role in global science diplomacy and science policy initiatives. 

Murenzi joined TWAS in April 2011. Before that he served from 2001 to 2006 as Rwanda's Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Scientific Research, and from March 2006 to July 2009 as Minister in the President's Office in Charge of Science, Technology, and Scientific Research, with responsibilities including Information and Communications Technology. In 2009 he was a senior scholar at the Center for Science, Technology and Sustainable Development at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); he served as director from 2010-2011. He also was visiting professor at the University of Maryland.

Murenzi was born in Rwanda in 1959 and raised in Burundi. He graduated from the National University of Burundi in 1982. He received his master's degree (1986) in physics and his PhD (1990) from Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. He was a physics professor at Clark Atlanta University (USA) from 1993 to 2001, serving as physics department chair from 1999 to 2001. In 2013 he earned a Master of Law degree in Information Technology and Telecommunication from the University of Strathclyde (UK).

His major areas of research include multidimensional continuous wavelet transforms to quantum mechanics, image and video processing, and science and technology policy.

Murenzi was elected a fellow of TWAS in 2005 and a fellow of the African Academy of Sciences in 2012. He serves on the board of directors for the Global Research Council (GRC), on the board of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.

In November 2014 he was appointed by the UN Secretary-General as the Chair of the High-level Panel of Technology Bank and Science, Technology and Innovation Supporting Mechanism for the Least Developed Countries; in June 2015 he was appointed Member of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development. He is also Member of the Carnegie Mellon University President’s Global Advisory Council.



16:30-18:00 6 NOVEMBER

"Is Africa equipped for the 2030 development agenda?"

The most important development objectives for the next fifteen years are the sustainable development goals that were adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015, as the 2030 development agenda. This agenda gives a comprehensive plan for national and global socio-economic development that reflects the urgent need to protect our planet. It will require greater investment in education at all levels. It will also require investment in science, technology and innovation (STI) not only for economic growth, but also social inclusion, that is, the eradication of poverty and extreme poverty through access to food, to safe drinking water and sanitation. Also, this new development agenda is striking for its difference from the Millennium Development Goals, as it claims that sustainability is a must.

The African continent is poorly equipped to face the challenges related to sustainable development, such as population growth, food security, climate change, lack of drinking water and poor sanitation, and energy security. It trails behind in several indicators including human development index, higher education enrollment, number of college graduates, number researchers as well as number of scientists per capita in all fields of sciences and technology including engineering.

My talk will be organized as follows. First, I will discuss the developmental challenges faced by the Africa continent. These challenges are particularly reflected in poor human capacity and poor scientific infrastructure. Second, I will discuss the need to build a continental innovation system comprising the appropriate science governance system linked with STI policies and strategies that not only emphasize growth but take into account social inclusion. Finally, I will discuss the role of South-South and North-South cooperation in helping Africa to build it STI capacity.