Climate Change Takes Centre Stage at SRI Conference

Dr. Lawrence Njogu, the General Manager, Strategy Research and Compliance at the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited (KETRACO)

The globe continues to witness extreme weather events, occasioned with increase in global temperatures. The devastating consequence has seen several livelihoods disenfranchised, a steady decline in GDP growth, and heightened socio-economic vulnerabilities, especially in the Sub-Saharan African region.

According to Dr. Lawrence Njogu, the General Manager, Strategy Research and Compliance at the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited (KETRACO), there is urgent need for a radical paradigm shift in research and innovation to focus on climate-smart solutions to enhance sustainability and mitigate the harsh consequences of climate change.

He was speaking Wednesday 5 October, 2022 at the annual Sustainable Research and Innovation (SRI) Conference organized by JKUAT’s College of Engineering and Technology, where he presided as Chief Guest.

Drawing from the harsh lessons of the COVID-19, Dr. Njogu holds that the pandemic itself was a late lesson from an early warning.

“It showed that unwarranted degradation of natural systems exacerbates the risk for such pandemics. The complex interplay of drivers of change was evident from such as ecosystem disturbance, urbanization, international travel, and climate change,” he said.

Participants pose for a commemorative photo after the SRI conference

The SRI Conference, which is organized under the broad theme of innovation and research for industrialization and sustainable development, acts as a platform to bring together researchers, industrialists, policymakers and funding organs to achieve the synergy necessary for development.

The 2022 conference saw a total of 55 presentations, spanning several thematic areas, such as Transition to Clean Energy, Climate change resilience strategies, Autonomous systems for extreme environments, Food safety and biosecurity, Efficient power systems, Transportation and infrastructure development, Sustainable solutions for Geo-hazards, Developments in Multifunctional materials and Structures, among others.

In her opening remarks at the conference, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi acknowledged that the conference was taking place on the backdrop of many global challenges facing humanity, and urged the participants to synergize their research and innovation efforts towards addressing them.

“For this to happen, we have to embrace multidisciplinary research, and I am happy to confirm that JKUAT values participatory research and innovation processes. We believe that what we do should have direct application to the industry,” she added.

The conference had three keynote presentations, including Prof. Dr. -Ing. Henning Zeidler, the Chair of Additive Manufacturing at Freiberg University of Mining and Technology (TU Bergakademie Freiberg), and Prof. Apanee Luengnaruemitchai, from the Petroleum and Petrochemical College, Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. The third keynote speech was made by Prof. SAKAI Takeharu, from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, at Tottori University, Japan.

The session also had two guest presentations, from Ms. Tonghathai Likhitweerawong, the Project Manager, JICA Technical Cooperation Project for ASEAN University Network, and Dr. Nuwong Chollacoop, the Director, Low Carbon Energy Research Group, Thailand.

The two-day conference came to a close with a rallying call for a strong working partnership linking academia and industry for relevance and increased uptake and commercialization of research findings and innovations.

Participants during the SRI conference

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