Students largely drawn from the Department of Information Technology at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) had an opportunity to interact with Ms. Caroline Mwangi, the Co-Founder of the Kenyan Germany Career & Entrepreneurship Network (KGCEN) who gave an informative presentation on existing career opportunities in Germany.
The talk held Wednesday, August 21, 2019, was organized in collaboration with the Kenyan-German Centre for Data Analytics (KGDA) that is hosted by JKUAT’s School of Computing and Information Technology.
During the talk, students were informed about possibilities of furthering their studies in Germany as well as funding opportunities from organizations such as the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Katholischer Akademischer Ausländer-Dienst (KAAD), Alexander von Humbolt Foundation and Bayer Foundation among others.
Ms. Mary Gladys Waweru is one of the alumni students and a beneficiary of a Scoop Bayer Award after participating in a competition whose theme was: “Addressing Smallholder Farming Challenges through Innovation.” Her innovation, a mobile image recognition application that not only identifies plant diseases, but also gives proper preventive and curative measures, enabled her to undertake a three months internship at Bayer East Africa.
Mr. Philip Oyier, a faculty member in the IT Department at JKUAT who coordinates the Kenyan-German Centre for Data Analytics, underscored the importance of establishing mutually beneficial engagements with Germany, especially those designed to equip students with skills that can allow them to solve local problems.
Mr. Oyier said, through the KGDA programme started in 2015, several students, some of whom were in attendance, had already undertaken internship programme in Germany, ranging from two weeks to six months. The student-beneficiaries of the exchange program, cited new educational and cultural experiences, which they added, had opened new opportunities for them.
On her part, Ms. Caroline Mwangi, stated that the founding of the Kenyan Germany Career & Entrepreneurship Network was largely motivated by the need to push for science in Africa to shine the spotlight on available opportunities as well as bringing together a pool of international experts who have excelled in various fields of study.
These experts who are based in both Kenya and Germany, she added, could provide mentorship and act as links to existing opportunities. One of the experts, Dr.-Ing. Wamai Mwangi from the Department of Mechatronic Engineering was present shared his experience at the Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany, where he spent four years undertaking doctoral studies.
Ms. Caroline Mwangi further informed the audience that KGCEN’s main aim is to highlight the academic achievements of African professionals abroad, especially in Germany, since adequate acknowledgement in that regard has been lacking. Unfortunately, this has the negative effect that many Africans abroad are perceived to be uneducated and poor, despite a good number of them being key contributors in their areas of expertise.
However, progress is being made in regard to the establishment of key research collaborations like the aforementioned Kenyan-German Centre for Data Analytics in JKUAT as well as the establishment of African-German centres of excellence such as the Centre of Excellence for Mining, Environmental Engineering and Resource Management (CEMEREM) in Taita Taveta University. Moreover, many Kenyans who have either studied or worked abroad continue to come back home, bringing with them a wealth of experience that is timely for development.
This has helped in reducing the problem of brain drain that has the capacity to cripple Kenya’s development efforts. To support this fight against brain drain, Germany, through its Centre for Immigration and International Development (CIM) department supports returning experts by offering them a top-up to their salary for a minimum of one year, and also supports the purchase of necessary equipment to enable sound research to be undertaken.
In fact, JKUAT’s School of Civil, Environmental and Geospatial Engineering has recently benefited from equipment support under this arrangement.
During the career talk, students were encouraged keep informing themselves about possible opportunities through the KGCEN website, as well as connecting with experts and mentors on KGCEN platforms, and listen to their interviews on topics of interest.
This could be helpful since these pool of experts includes returnees who studied or worked abroad for an extended period of time, as well as Kenyans who participated in programmes that allowed for short term or semester visits abroad such as the Afrika Kommt program, or those who attended accelerator programs for start-ups such as Afrolynk or the Make-IT in Africa programme. All these platforms could enable students to make informed decisions, if and when an opportunity arises. More information, and testimonies on the JKUAT career event can be accessed by watching the video clip at; https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iXhhwUdk-Ps&feature=youtu.be