Over 30 participants drawn from Cameroon, Germany, Namibia and Kenya Monday February 22, 2016 converged at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology for the 2016 Spring School. The event themed Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development is part of a collaboration network that brings together four universities namely: JKUAT, Flensburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany; Namibia University of Science and Technology; and Institute of Technology and Management, Cameroon.
Addressing the opening ceremony, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Director, Dr. Helmut Blumbach, lauded the initiative, saying it offers the crucial interlinkage of industry, academia and development agencies to foster cross border collaboration. He further characterized the partnership as a model of intuitional building, staff development and student exchanges.
Citing a report by the Commission for University Education, Dr. Helmut said there was need for countries like Kenya to intensify training and research in engineering and technology oriented programmes. This, he opined, would enable the country to effectively exploit its natural resources like oil and gas.
Welcoming the participants to JKUAT, Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs, Prof. Romanus Odhiambo commended DAAD for the funding and nudged the students to prioritize learning and create lasting networks. He noted the programme resonates with JKUAT’s aspirations to entrench research, innovation and entrepreneurship in its academic undertakings.
Nicholas Wambua who spent four months at Flensburg University of Applied Sciences between September 2015 and January 2016 studying Business Informatics termed the programme an eye opener.
“It enables us to learn more about the interface of technology, culture and international market structures,” said Wambua who is a student at the School of Computing and Information Technology.
Soukaina Hadidjatou, a Business Informatics student from the Institute of Technology and Management, Cameroon, said the event will foster her cross-cultural understanding while getting hands-on skills and industry experience.
One of the activities of the programme involves pairing students from different countries to work on specific projects with ultimate aim of providing ICT related solutions to pressing societal problems.
Jurgita Juskeviciute, a third year Business Administration and Marketing from Flensburg University said it is important to have innovations with utilitarian value. To realize that, she advises innovators need to undertake market surveys that focuses on a number of parameters including cultural orientation. Innovations so conceived, make an easily sell because they meet existing needs.
Besides the opportunity to interact with contemporaries, the Spring School equally offers participants a chance to learn about new academic and research opportunities beyond their home institutions, something that Penny Hituvali from Namibia University of Science and Technology looks forward to.
“By sharing information, you get to know what is available elsewhere. Working with teams from different parts of the world is a great opportunity that is not always easy to access. That sets the Spring School apart,” Penny averred.
During the programme that come to an end Friday February 26, participants will undertake a series of workshops and industry visits. Principal facilitators of the Spring School include Prof. Thomas Schmidt, Director of the Centre for Business and Technology in Africa, Flensburg University; Mr. Josphat Mukabi, Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head of Department, Namibia University of Science and Technology and Mr. Phillip Oyier, Head of Information Technology Department, JKUAT.