Varsities can help Africa realize Sustainable Development Goals

Dr. Ngunjiri (second left) NACOSTI’s Roy Mugiira (centre) and Prof. Koyamada (second right) interact with charcoal-based coolant developed by JKUAT student, Denis Githinji.

Universities and other research institutions in Africa have been challenged to pioneer quality, reliable and affordable innovations that could be deployed to help the continent achieve Sustainable Development Goals (DSGs).

The Director General of the Sustainable Development Goal Center for Africa (SDGCA), Dr. Belay Begashaw decried the fact that African counties were importing cheap and below par products from developed economies; a situation, he added, was impeding industrialization in the continent.

Dr. Belay said sustainable innovations should meet three tenets namely: promote social inclusion, be environmentally friendly and have the potential to foster economic growth.

“Many universities do not understand the societies they are in and are therefore unable to direct their efforts to help their countries move forward,” he said. “Universities must embrace transformative approaches to propel our countries into economic, political and social development.”

The Director General also urged politicians not to focus on GDP growth only; and begin to lay emphasis on quality of life for citizens and environmental sustainability.

Dr. Ngunjiri samples some of the value added products from the Food Science Department

“In collaboration with JICA and other African institutions, we have launched a roadmap for reforms dubbed ‘Kigali initiative,’ to propel greater achievements in our tertiary institutions to help Africa catch up with developed economies,” Dr. Belay revealed.

Dr. Belay’s remarks were delivered by Dr. Margaret Wanjiku Ngunjiri at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology during the opening of the 12th JKUAT Scientific, Technological and Industrialization Conference and Exhibition, Thursday November 23, 2017.

Dr. Ngunjiri also informed the Conference participants that investing in women was a key plank in achieving the SDGs; saying that women contributed up to 80% of agricultural labour in Sub-Saharan Africa.

SDGCA whose mandate is to support countries in Sub-Saharan Africa actualize Sustainable Development Goals; works closely with universities in search of sustainable solutions to Africa’s challenges.

In a keynote address on Scientific Visualization in Open Data Era, Prof. Koji Koyamada said visualization was important in fostering human and machine collaboration; in order to understand a broad range of phenomena.

Making sense of a deluge of data or causality exploration by organizations, Prof. Koyamada added, was important in knowledge-driven policy formulation and implementation.

In a welcoming address, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga said JKUAT had honed several innovations in key fields such as agriculture, engineering, ICT that could be harnessed for socio-economic transformation of Kenya and Africa.

Prof. Imbuga said the conference was an initiative by JKUAT to promote scientific rigour among students and staff while allowing the industry to learn about JKUAT research and innovation outputs.

Prof. Imbuga was represented in the event by the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs, Prof. Romanus Odhiambo.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research, Production and Extension, Prof. Mary Abukutsa said the event had featured over 70 presentations in seven thematic areas such as ICT, Open Data, Applied Sciences, Health Sciences, Built Environment, Economic and Industrialization

The Conference that comes to end Friday November 24, attracted over 100 participants drawn from Kenya, Japan, Nigeria and China. The event was supported by SDGCA, JICA and Emerald Publishing.