Facilities to support African innovation handed over to JKUAT

Ms. Sano (right) hands over iPIC documentation to Prof. Kanyari during the 3rd JCC meeting as Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel lmbuga witnesses.

The research and innovation capacity of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology has received a major boost following the establishment of two modern research facilities by JICA, under the auspices of the AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project. The buildings: innovation Prototyping and Invention Centre (iPIC) and the Small Animal Facility for Research and Innovation (SAFARI); are slated to stimulate research and innovation in a number  of scientific disciplines such as engineering, agriculture, biotechnology, and molecular biology.

AFRICA ai-JAPAN Project is a tripartite agreement between Government of Japan, African Union Commission (AUC) and Government of Kenya, initiated in June 2014, with the objective to strengthen the research and innovation capacity of JKUAT towards successful implementation of the Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI)

Speaking during the handing over ceremony, JICA Kenya Chief Representative, Keiko Sano said the Agency was undertaking a number of initiatives to support Africa’s realization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); particularly through training and research.

Ms. Sano (centre) and Prof Imbuga taken through the capilary wick based landless garden system at the innovation display corner within iPIC

Ms. Sano commended PAUSTI implementation partners for cordial working relations and unity of purpose that she said had enabled AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project to register a number of milestones.

She further challenged JKUAT and PAUSTI researchers to proactively engage the industry for commercialization of the innovation outputs.

Receiving the facilitates on behalf of JKUAT, Council Chairman Prof. Paul Njuki Kanyari thanked JICA for the support adding that the specialized laboratories will be instrumental in hoisting JKUAT’s innovation and entrepreneurship agenda.

The hand over took place during third meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) for the AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project on Tuesday November 21, 2017.

Addressing the meeting participants, the Director General, National Commission of Science and Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI), Dr. Moses Rugut said that Kenya had committed a total of KSh. 53 billion annually, towards research and innovation activities

3rd JCC Meeting participants

Dr. Rugut however noted the funding still fell short of the provision of the Science Technology and Innovation Act which demands that the country invests 2% of GDP (KSh. 120 billion) annually. He therefore commended JICA for the support towards JKUAT/PAUSTI through AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project.

Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga said the Project’s support had enabled JKUAT solidify its international standing as strong model for scientific and technological research and innovation.

“PAUSTI has emerged as a leading institute of the PAU, with the fifth cohort consisting over 150 students drawn from 38 countries are undergoing orientation at the Institute,” Prof. Imbuga said.

AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project is implemented through five sub-taskforces, focusing on key areas of consequence to Africa’s development aspirations. These sub-taskforces include the Innovation and Prototyping Integrated Centre (iPIC); Innovation Centre for Bio-resources (iCB); Innovation Centre for Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (iCMoB) and Innovative Open Data and Visualization (iODaV) and the Innovation Center for Product, Development and Commercialization (iPDeC). The sub-taskforces approach innovation research activities in a multidisciplinary way.

The SAFARI Building

The JCC meeting was also attended by Masakazu Shibata, Second Secretary, economic Affairs and Economic Cooperation Section, Embassy of Japan in Kenya; Deputy Vice Chancellors: Prof. Romanus Odhiambo, Prof. Victoria Ngumi, Prof. Mary Abukutsa; and AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project Chief Advisor, Prof. Manabu Tsunoda and PAUSTI Registrar, Dr. Jane Ngethe.