A three days Scientific Conference organized by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, opened, Wednesday November 16, 2011,with one of the keynote speakers, Ola Altera calling on African countries to chart a home grown development agenda to narrow poverty levels in the continent. Altera the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) representative to Kenya and Eritrea told the opening session of the annual event, there was plenty that Africa would learn from the pitfalls and path of western models of development that were sometimes costly in terms of infrastructure and environmental impact.
The official asked researchers in Africa to come up with local based inventions that could accelerate the continent’s industrialization process saying industrialization had succeeded in China where it had managed to remove 400 million people out of poverty in 30 years.
Speaking during the opening session Vice Chancellor Prof.Mabel Imbuga told the conference participants numbering 148, research was an expensive enterprise that required substantial capital investment saying that JKUAT had currently invested on over fifty key research projects aimed at creating an impact on the people of Kenya. She cited the Sorghum research programme pioneered by JKUAT researchers that has led to the development of four sorghum value added products likely to promote food, fuel, and animal feed production in Kenya with the potential to transform ASAL’s livelihood through agribusiness and entrepreneurship.
This year’s conference has the theme Science, Technology and Innovation: Towards Sustainable Development and has attracted scientists and policy makers drawn from Africa, Europe, Asia and North America, who will present papers on the sub-themes: Basic and applied Sciences, Health Sciences, Engineering, ICT, Policy and Governance, agriculture and Water, energy and environment. A number of keynote speakers have been lined up to speak during the conference that ends on Friday November 18, 2011. They include; Prof. Marc van Lersel from the US based University of Georgia who will present a paper on sustainable green house production. Another keynote speaker will be Prof. Walter Oyawa, a leading civil engineering scholar and Principal, JKUAT College of Engineering and Technology who will deliver a presentation titled ‘the role of engineering in the provision of affordable housing’. There will also be Dr. Severine Fogel of the French Embassy in Nairobi who will speak on the topic strategy of bilateral scientific cooperation and Funding opportunities.
There is a parallel exhibition that is running alongside the conference that has attracted a total of 137 exhibitors drawn from the Ministries of Industrialization and Labour, youth and women groups, individual entrepreneurs, JKUAT technologies and innovations the banking industry and diplomatic missions.