Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Dr. Liu Xianfa has hailed the existing bilateral relationship between his country and Kenya stressing that there was a lot to benefit from the collaboration.
Addressing a well-attended handing over ceremony of the Kshs 3 Billion JKUAT Botanical Garden and Sino-Africa Joint Research Centre (SAJOREC), a project supported by his government on September 26, 2016, Dr. Xianfa lauded JKUAT’s research prowess which he said had distinct it from most institutions in the region.
The initiative, the Ambassador noted, was the first, unique and most compressive research project ever supported by the Chinese government anywhere else in the world.
“Of all the projects we have initiated in Kenya, from infrastructure, energy as well as to health among several others, Sino-Africa Joint Research Centre project stands out as the most unique and significant initiative the Chinese government has ever supported, said Dr. Xianfa.
Dr. Xianfa said the realization of this project is a testimony of research cooperation echoed by the Chinese Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China His Excellency Li Keqiang while addressing the African Union at the AU headquarters Centre in Addis Ababa on May 5, 2014.
The Research Centre, located on a 40 acre piece of land at the University’s main campus in Juja, will be the hub of cooperation between China and Africa in biodiversity related research and conservation for the Africa region.
SAJOREC, a collaboration initiative between JKUAT and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, comprises of specialist research facilities including laboratories, herbarium and greenhouses; administration offices, as well as conference and accommodation facilities.
On her part, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga, said the Centre will foster research in the region while boosting human capacity through training in key thematic areas.
”The research at the center will mainly focus on areas such as biodiversity conservation, geographic and remote sensing, natural products development, agricultural science and technology, microbiology and molecular biology,” said Prof. Imbuga
SAJOREC will also include an agricultural demonstration zone to showcase modern agricultural techniques especially in the management of drylands which constitute a large part of the land in Kenya.
The Centre, Prof. Imbuga acknowledged, will be critical in the fight for food security in the country and continent especially in recent times when the effects of climate change is affecting plant and animal population dynamics as never experienced before.
In a speech read by Council Member, Madam Njoki Kahiga, the Chair of Council, Prof. Paul Kanyari thanked both the Kenyan and Chinese Government for allowing her Institution host the project. This, he noted, was as a result of the University’s strength in research.
While giving a vote of thanks, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research, Production and Extension, Prof. Esther Kahangi, encouraged researchers to forge partnerships and friendship with their counterparts from other countries as epitomised by Professors Wang Qing-Feng of the Wuhan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Robert Gituru of JKUAT whose friendship led to the construction of SAJOREC.
Others present were Bertha Dena (Council member), Counsellor Guo Ce, Economic and Commercial Counsellor, Embassy of the Peoples’ Republic of China in Kenya, Deputy Vice Chancellors, Prof. Otoki Moirongo (Finance), Prof. Romanus Odhiambo (Academic Affairs) and Prof. Victoria Ngumi (Adminstration) among other university management staff.