Meet the member – African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS)

By Dr. Joel Onyango on 20 November 2020

The African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) aims to strengthen the capacity and policies of African countries and institutions to harness science, technology and innovation for sustainable development. In this ‘Meet the member’ piece we talk to Dr. Joel Onyango who represents ACTS in the Kenya “Water Dialogue” forum, the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) and other collaborative initiatives.

Why did you join the Rapid Transition Alliance?

The Alliance offers a platform to showcase stories that bring out hope and anticipate change influenced by evidence-based initiatives in the face of changing climate patterns. In our research work at ACTS – a development research think tank on harnessing applications of science, technology and innovation policies for sustainable development in Africa – we come across various stories that illustrate hope, even at the lowest economic levels of society. These stories prove that everyone in the society, according to their own capacity can contribute towards environmental management and reduce the negative impacts of climate change. We joined the alliance to be able to tell the world these stories.

What for you is the biggest challenge of rapid transition?

A lack of proper coordination of all the various stakeholders. Capacity is also needed to inform and educate people about the possibility of carrying out climate change mitigation and adaptation, whatever one’s individual situation.

What is your organisation doing to encourage rapid transition?

Under ACTS, is the African Sustainability hub, which takes an innovative approach to research – we aim to transform sustainability practices and influence policy reforms. The hub does this through a series of multi-stakeholder sustainability dialogues, which involves convening stakeholders from all sectors in the society to deliberate on emerging issues affecting society in key thematic areas; pro-poor access to clean energy; agricultural innovations; innovative climate governance; and social inclusion.

Under the Hub is also the Young African Scholars Academy (YASA) whose aim is to trigger graduate students and early career researchers, practitioners and policy makers to embrace new and critical ways of thinking about sustainability and development.

What is your favourite example of rapid transition?

Any transition involving community initiatives that involve localised ideas and resources; for example, the ‘instant’ local economy – how communities saved themselves when mainstream economics failed in Argentina.

What one thing would best help the task of rapid transition?

Packaging information and knowledge systems that are simple and clearly understood.


Dr. Joel Onyango

Dr. Joel Onyango is a Post Doc Researcher at the African Centre for Technology Studies. He represents ACTS in the Kenya “Water Dialogue” forum, the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), among other collaborative initiatives. He is part of the secretariat for The African Network for the Economics of Learning, Innovation, and Competence Building Systems (AfricaLics).