It has emerged that researchers and principal investigators spend 42 percent of their time on administrative duties and only 58 percent of their time in real time research. To help researchers concentrate 100 percent of their time on research.

It has also emerged that Professional Research Managers need to come to the aid of the Researchers. This was revealed during the two days EARIMA Conference that was held from December 2-4, 2019 at the University of Nairobi.

East Africa Research Innovation and Management Association, (EARIMA), is a non-profit professional association of research and innovation managers in East Africa. EARIMA as an association provides a platform for a strong regional network of research and innovation practitioners with the aim of strengthening individual and institutional capabilities in research management across the region.

The two-day conference brought together research managers from several countries across the region, mainly from Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia and Nigeria. EARIMA focuses on research management and innovation management. Their intention is to build capacity within our universities and within the continent.  

EARIMA Chairman, Prof. Eli Katunguka, who is also the Vice Chancellor, Kyambogo University in Uganda narrated historical accounts of how EARIMA came into existence. He observed that by researchers from different Universities and research institutions networking together, Africa is bound to contribute significantly to the global knowledge.

Prof. Madara Ogot, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research Innovation and Extension said that research management has not been taken seriously by Kenyan Universities. He opined that research management require unique skills that will enable principal researchers to concentrate on their technical work and not administration duties. In later deliberations at the conference, it emerged that unique skills needed are leadership skills, soft skills, communication skills among others. Professor Ogot expressed the need to have all universities of East Africa joining the network to enable the universities to speak with one voice.  He urged the secretariat to partner with Inter University Council of East Africa (IUCEA), which is fully supported by all governments of East Africa Community.  

On funding research, Gareth MacDonald, from United Kingdom Research Institute, KRI highlighted some of the needs and requirements of funding agencies. “We do due diligence. We check on your procedures and policies. Do you have relevant policies on whistleblowing? When there are breaches of policies, are there established channels for appeals, complaints?”, he asked while outlining the various needs of the funding agencies. He observed that as funding agencies, they are transparent. They aim at empowering the administrative function of research universities and institutes and disseminating best practices. As funding agencies, they are keen on value for money. 

Allen Mukhwana, from Africa Academy of Sciences, outlined the need to build capacity of those helping researchers.  Priority areas should be training on research management processes, systemic change, implementation of research policy, communication and engagement about research activities.