The President of Okayama University (Japan), Prof. Kiyoshi Morita, has urged researchers based at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and their Japanese counterparts at Okayama University, to build on existing strong historical partnerships to strengthen their research and innovation enterprises.
Prof. Morita was addressing researchers and exhibitors drawn from Japan, Uganda, Rwanda, West Africa, and Europe during the Eleventh Annual JKUAT Scientific, Technological and Industrialization Conference and Exhibitions that opened, Thursday, November 10, at JKUAT Main Campus.
Noting the conference, whose theme is: “Harnessing Technologies for a Prosperous Future” was particularly important considering the long standing cordial relationship between Okayama University and JKUAT in view of the various joint ventures undertaken over the years including the role played by Okayama University in the founding of JKUAT, Prof. Morita said, the evidence of that solid relationship is manifested in the various projects such the JICA project “ African Innovation – JKUAT and PAUISTI Network Project, AFRICA –ai JAPAN.
Prof. Morita lauded the conference’s focus on agriculture, which he observed, “remains the backbone of many economies worldwide and thus expressed his desire to see researchers’ work and experiences providing the impetus and “insights to the conference and contribute to the development of agriculture and food sectors.”
Minister-Counsellor, Embassy of Japan in Kenya, Mr. Yoshihiro Katayama, acknowledged “The strong commitment by the Government of Kenya in harnessing the power of science, technology and innovation as a driver for wealth creation, national prosperity and quality of life, noting, Japan is equally committed to join forces with Kenya in realizing that Vision, which was also “reaffirmed during the recent TICAD conference through deepening cooperation in nurturing qualified human resources that is indispensable for successful outcomes of STI related endeavors and Africa’s development.”
Mr. Katayama reckoned that human beings are living in “a new age of limits, in terms of the planet, in terms of resources” noting, “science can provide solutions that are sustainable.”
He said, “No one country can achieve sustainable development on its own, international scientific cooperation contributes, not only to generation and dissemination of knowledge, but also to sustainable solutions.”
Underscoring the significance of research and innovation as key pillars of promoting industrialization and socioeconomic development across the world, Vice Chancellor, Prof Mabel Imbuga, said “JKUAT has in the past few years placed a heavy premium on research and innovations conducted internally and through partnership with external players.”
She urged researchers to embrace a multidisciplinary approach and explore ways and means of generating proposals that will easily attract funding from international institutions.
Prof Imbuga announced that JKUAT’s Human Ethics Review Committee has been accredited by the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) and is expected to help researchers meet the ethical and scientific values in their proposals.
JKUAT, the Vice Chancellor revealed, “Had dedicated more than Ksh 50 million to support various research and innovation activities in the current financial year. For the same purpose, the University managed to attract Ksh 200 million from the government and other donors.”
Prof. Imbuga acknowledged the support from the AFRICA-ai-Japan through the construction of iPIC, Japan Society for Promotion of Science for material and financial support, and the People’s Republic of China for the construction of the Sino-Africa Joint Research Centre Complex and Botanical gardens.
Reflecting on this year’s participation, Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Research, Production and Extension, Prof. Esther Kahangi, observed that this year has witnessed a heavy representation from Japan, alongside presenters from Uganda, West Africa and Europe. She said, the “University was committed to continually raise the visibility of the conference as well as encouraging young and budding scientists to take advantage of the platform.”
While the conference sub-thematic areas remained largely unchanged, strict vetting of abstracts and full papers aimed at maintaining quality has been the guiding principle, according to Prof. Kahangi, who challenged the presenters to upscale their research findings to innovations and commercialization.
During the two-day conference that ends Friday, November 11, Agriculture sub-theme is the most represented with nineteen papers expected to be presented. The sub-theme of Water, Energy and Environment, will showcase thirteen presentations, while the Human and Animal Health Sciences sub-theme which in the past two years combined attracted less than five abstracts, will feature eight abstracts. A total of sixty-seven papers and six keynote presentations are expected to be delivered.