A day before JKUAT marks its 20 years celebrations since assuming University autonomy in 1994, a busy mood has engulfed the University with last minute arrangements taking centre stage to ensure everything required for the success of the momentous event is in place. At the University main entrance gate, a team of construction professionals have put final touches marking the finishing point of the 20th year celebrations monument signature, perhaps the main symbol for the celebrations expected to be unveiled, Friday, March 27, 2015, the D-Day.
Already two public lectures by Prof. Ratemo Michieka, and Prof. Nick Wanjohi, the inaugural vice chancellor and his predecessor took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 24 and 25 2015 respectively. From Japan, a team of five leading professors led by Prof. Hiroji Nakagawa renowned civil engineering scholar in Japan, now 88, who are associated with the establishment and implementation of the institution since the late 1970’s arrived at JKUAT in readiness for the celebrations.
It is Prof. Nakagawa who had led a group of Japanese nationals in 1978 on a mission to conduct feasibility on behalf of the Government of Japan, and it is the upshot of the group’s pilot findings that led to the successful construction and completion in 1981of Jomo Kenyatta College of Agriculture and Technology, the precursor of JKUAT. Nakagawa’s role continued to feature in the 20-year Japan-Kenya bilateral technical cooperation, responsible for the implementation of JKUAT project that came to an end 2000.
Giving his public talk, Prof. Michieka warned on the dangers of rampant environmental degradation saying the threat remained a major hindrance to national development particularly to developing countries like Kenya that he said had also limited mitigating interventions. The situation according to Prof. Ratemo Michieka had been worsened by lack of glaring environmental law enforcement that was often unknown to majority of Kenyans. The University of Nairobi based weed science don, emphasized the importance for Kenyans to be familiar of their constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment that had also been protected by various international environmental regimes.
Prof. Michieka, who was speaking on the topic, Agriculture, Water and Environment singled out overpopulation, deforestation, overgrazing and agricultural activities as some of the most obvious man made causes of environmental pollution which he said, easily led to climate change, that had a direct link to some of the current human calamities. Climate change he said led to some adverse effects like severe high temperature and floods resulting in low agricultural outputs.
Commenting on Kenya’s persistent food shortage situation, Prof. Michieka urged for concerted effort to conserve all water sources and at the same time device ways of tapping rain and fog water for irrigation.
Prof. Nick Wanjohi on his part presented a lecture in which he underlined the centrality of innovation and creativity to national development. The former vice chancellor in an address titled ‘Innovation and Creativity in Job Creation’ persuaded researchers in Kenya to focus on applied research that would eventually lead to invention capable of solving real problems.
Prof. Wanjohi emphasized research based inventions would accelerate Kenya’s industrialization. He was categorical industrialization would considerably reduce the country’s unrelenting circle of dependency and poverty. The greatest job and value creators of today and the future according to Prof. Wanjohi was to found in the enterprise of innovation.
But for innovation based research to be meaningful, Prof. Wanjohi said there was the need for the government and private sectors to be brought into the enterprise saying ‘their input will exponentially swell the value of innovation and creativity’
According to Prof. Wanjohi the massive public and private sector investment that industrial countries commit to support research in educational and research institutions was crucial in supporting the development of innovation clusters. This situation in developing countries he lamented was totally different where innovative research relied on foreign research institutions that were often motivated by activities back in their home countries.