Over 40 University Principal Investigators (PIs) and Financial Administrators (FAs) drawn from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Germany have converged at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology for a two-day conference under the auspices of the East African Network of Learning Administrators (EANLA).
The conference was organised by JKUAT and International Center for Development and Decent Work (ICDD)-University of Kassel with the support of DAAD in a bid to strengthen and build the capacity of PIs and FAs on the management of third party funds, especially research funds.
During the official opening of the conference, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi acknowledged that universities in the region are faced with many challenges such as limited funds for research as well as the management of the limited funds sourced by the researchers and lauded the efforts of the network in bringing together researchers, administrators of research funds, donor organisations and higher education bodies.
“This will ensure the discussions will be inclusive and enhance sustainability of future funding through our institutions and attract research funding crucial in aiding our institutions global prestige,” elucidated Prof. Ngumi.
She encouraged the network to maintain its efforts in order to upscale the level of funding and improve the management of research funds in the partner institutions. “We need to optimize and professionalize the financial administration of locally and internationally funded projects as this will help build confidence with potential funders and help us attract more funding.”
DAAD Regional Project Officer, Ms. Margaret Kirai, underscored the importance of networks such as EANLA saying, “with the current changes in Higher Education, there is need for transformative leaders with a global mind set to deal with emerging issues which are sometime complex.
She urged participants to play a role in streamlining administrative processes, building capacity through trainings and workshops, and establish effective communication channels which she was optimistic, would enhance trust among partners and funders.
While giving a brief status of EANLA, Ms. Birgit Felmeden from ICDD-University of Kassel informed the gathering that since inception in 2013, the network has engaged over 250 PIs and FAs from member countries. She said, the network’s focus is on enhancing and streamlining the existing management structures at universities in East Africa, as well as developing insights into the different perspectives of the stakeholders involved.
To enhance efficiency in the research administration process, Ms. Felmeden reported that the network is in the final stages of producing a manual for the administration of third party funded projects. She further said capacity building of PIs for third party research through mentorship and coaching of junior PIs is important for the sustainability of the third party research funding across the globe.
The conference that comes to an end, November 21, 2018, provides a platform where higher education stakeholders, policy makers, researchers and finance administrators exchange ideas to further develop and strengthen the structural management of international project funds within the network. EANLA Conference Coordinator, Prof. Christopher Kanali also spoke at the meeting.