The manufacturing sector is critical to the attainment of Kenya’s Vision 2030 and more importantly, to the Government policies on job creation, value addition and import substitution.
However, the achievements of the objectives have been hampered by current poor performance of the manufacturing sector in Kenya.
This dismal performance is attributed to low capital injection, use of obsolete technologies, inadequate raw materials, dumping of cheap imports and high costs of production.
This challenge, Prof. Bernard Ikua, who heads the Manufacturing Research Chair, says, “Calls for homegrown solutions for the manufacturing sector by developing and disseminating technological innovations relevant to the sector.”
He was speaking during the National Research Chair in Manufacturing advisory committee meeting at JKUAT, Friday, July 27, 2018 where leaders of 5 research streams shared the various research activities undertaken since the launch of the Research Chair whose main emphasis is on innovations for the coconut value chain, with specific focus on various coconut products including; “Food and Beverages, Energy and Biomass, Textile and Fibers, Cosmetics and Beauty Products, and Tooling and Machineries to support manufacture of the products.”
During the meeting also attended by representatives from NACOSTI, KIRDI, NOCD, KEPSA, KAM, NRF, KENIA, AFA, KALRO, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga noted that “the manufacturing research chair on technological innovations for quality and productivity in the coconut value added products, will unlock the great potential of the coconut crop, and affect positively the economics of the small scale enterprises, especially in the coast region.”
She thanked NACOSTI and the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC) for supporting the research, and appreciated researchers from Moi and Multimedia Universities as well as KIRDI for bringing on board their expertise geared towards a common goal.
NACOSTI in collaboration with Canada’s International Development Research Centre (ICDRC) is implementing the University Research Chairs Programme. The first university research chair in Kenya in Health Systems was awarded to Moi University, while the second Research Chair in Manufacturing was won by JKUAT and it will run for 5 years.
The programme focuses on strengthening the coconut value chain in Kenya. Coconut is widely distributed crop along the Kenyan coastline, yet little research has gone into its value-chain denying the country substantial economic returns such as job creation and export earnings.
The anticipated outcomes include: equipment and tools for enhancing productivity and quality targeting diverse issues within the coconut industry, safe and value added food products for domestic and export markets, SMES within the coconut sub sector will be supported to become fully grown industries. The project aims to design and develop tools and machines for production and commercialization of coconut.