The Government of Japan through JICA has given the African Union-africa innovation-JKUAT and PAUSTI Network (AFRICA-ai-JAPAN) Project a one-year extension to strengthen Science, Technology and Innovation Training in Africa to boost manufacturing and spur economic growth across the continent. This was ratified during a signing ceremony held at the Ministry of Education, January 29, 2019.
The project, a tripartite agreement among the Government of Japan, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Government of Kenya, was initiated in June 2014 to strengthen research and innovation capacity of JKUAT, as a strategy of successful implementation of the Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI).
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Education Cabinet Secretary, Amb. (Dr.) Amina Mohamed paid tribute to the stakeholders involved in the project for its central role in fostering Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in the continent.
She acknowledged the importance Science, Technology and Innovation had assumed in promoting knowledge based economies, and said STI was central in fostering industrial development urging the continent’s scientists and policy makers to increase their investment in technological research and innovation.
“There is a significant strain in the capacity of many Africa governments to nurture conducive environment for high output in Science, Technology and Innovation, which is key for leap-frogging the continent towards disruptive socio-economic transformation,” elucidated CS Amina.
The African Union based PAUSTI located at JKUAT that has so far received 450 and graduated 120 students at graduate level, 14 of them at PhD level remain one of the greatest achievement of the project.
On physical infrastructure, the project has established the innovation Prototyping and Invention Centre (iPIC) and the Small Animal Facility for Research and Innovation (SAFARI) which have significantly boosted research and innovation capacity for JKUAT and PAUSTI researchers. The project also initiated a Kshs. 60 million renovation and extension of the Agriculture Laboratory building at JKUAT to foster capacity to undertake applied teaching and research towards the development of the country.
The Cabinet Secretary said the extension of the project will ensure that all the components envisioned in the project are realized and implored stakeholders to expedite the implementation phase noting that research outputs from the anticipated facilities would be useful in accelerating industrial development not only for Kenya but for the entire continent.
On her part, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi, acknowledged that the innovation Prototyping and Invention Centre (iPIC) and the Small Animal Facility for Research and Innovation (SAFARI) handed over to JKUAT in 2017, had significantly boosted research and innovation capacity of the University and solidified JKUAT’s international standing as a strong model for scientific, technological research and innovation hub.
Saying that PAUSTI had emerged as one of the leading institution of PAU, Prof. Ngumi lauded AFRICA-ai-JAPAN’s efforts in developing the human resource for industrial development in the area of Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa.
With the one year extension, JICA Kenya Chief Representative, Ms. Keiko Sano, said “the extension is expected to enhance operation of scientific equipment maintenance and to achieve the targeted objectives, and therefore fulfill the project’s purpose of producing graduates with skills and knowledge in STI for industrial development in JKUAT/PAUSTI.”
With the extension, the AFRICA-ai-JAPAN project culminates in June 2020.