Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) staged the 17th Scientific, Technological and Industrialization Conference and Exhibition, March 23-24, 2023.
The two-day conference, themed ‘Leveraging Higher Education, Research and Innovation for Sustainable Development,’ attracted over 300 participants from academia, government, and the private sector.
Organised in seven thematic areas, the conference provided a platform for stakeholders to exchange ideas and explore innovative approaches to sustainable development in Kenya and Africa.
From agriculture, food security, basic and applied sciences, engineering, ICT, governance and policy, medicine, energy and climate change, the discussions were insightful, highlighting the importance of research, innovation, and collaboration in achieving sustainable development.
While emphasizing the importance of such conferences in the space of academia, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi said institutions of higher learning continue to play a critical role in advancing knowledge and developing solutions to tackle complex problems facing society.
“I am delighted to note that the conference has attracted a significant number of papers covering various thematic areas. I am confident that the solutions provided in the papers will play a key role in enhancing the development agenda of any country and specifically to Kenya, the attainment of the government’s development agenda including agriculture, food security, affordable housing, access to health and manufacturing,” opined Prof. Ngumi.
She further urged the government to provide a conducive, efficient and equitable environment for researchers and innovators to thrive and create opportunities for commercialization of research.
Prof. Jonathan Oyebamiji Babalola, Vice Chancellor designate of Bowen University, Nigeria said for all the countries in the continent to become middle-income countries driven by the knowledge economy, they must direct significant investments in the education and related sectors.
Prof. Babalola made the utterances during the opening ceremony, lauding JKUAT for staging the conference as a clear testimony of the institution’s commitment to create and disseminate knowledge, a key mandate for higher education.
Highlighting the critical role that research and innovation play in driving sustainable development, the Professor said “we live in a world that is rapidly changing, and there is need to adapt to these changes if we are to achieve sustainable development. Higher education, research and innovation are essential in this regard, as they provide us with the tools and knowledge needed to navigate these changes.”
Qualifying the importance of staging the conference annually, the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Research, Production and Extension, Prof. Jackson Kwanza said the hallmark of a top-notch university is indicated by the quality of its academic and training programmes, research and innovation activities and its ability to disseminate innovations and technologies to enhance economic development.
While acknowledging the diversity of the conference with regards to the various discipline represented, the Chair of the Conference, Dr. Rehema Ndeda said the objective of the conference is to bolster research outputs and education, tackling problems across all sectors effectively.
She urged the researchers never to get tired of trying, testing, inventing, and creating. “Your work is vital to our collective progress, and your contributions are deeply appreciated. Your research and innovation have the power to make a positive difference in our world.”
During the closing ceremony, Permanent Secretary, State Department for Energy, Mr. Alex Kamau appreciated JKUAT for staging the conference, saying the theme was especially timely and important in today’s world.
“The impact of this conference cannot be underestimated. It has indeed reinvigorated collaboration between researchers and research institutions, at a multi-disciplinary and global level. The solutions to the challenges facing our society will no doubt be found through collaboration and the sharing of ideas,” said the Permanent Secretary in a speech read by Secretary Administration, Ministry of Energy, Mr. Wycliffe Ogallo.
The conference also saw keynote talks from Prof. Tuula Tukhanen of University of Jyväskylä, Prof. James Kung’u of Mama Ngina University College and Dr. Patrick Mburugu of JKUAT. The three tackled issues on research ethics, water and energy and role of research and technology in addressing the challenges of climate change.
The conference attracted participants from 17 countries namely Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Zanzibar, Cameroon, Namibia, Botswana, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Finland, Ethiopia, UK, Canada, South Africa and the USA.