Demand-Driven Research Key for Africa’s Growth

The meeting in session

Demand-driven research could be the ultimate game-changer in ensuring academia and industry form a productive synergy for economic transformation and sustainable development in Africa.

At a time when the continent and the globe is grappling with economic upheavals, it is incumbent upon universities to not just undertake general research but ensure they are market/demand-driven, and that they resonate with industry needs and solve the most urgent challenges. This would also be the surest of way for the continent to actualize Agenda 2063.

On Friday, February 24, 2023, the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST), the Pan-African University Institute for Basic Sciences, technology and Innovation (PAUSTI), gathered to deliberate on this transformative approach to academic research, among other causes.

The institutions agreed to embrace demand-driven research as a way of catalysing the continent’s growth.

Prof. Adly hands a symbolic gift to Prof. Ikua after the deliberations.

“It is basically a rethink of the education system, and a step towards ensuring that on the one hand, we produce graduates that can directly impact the economies of African states, and on the other, ensuring that universities take the rightful position as solution providers to the most urgent challenges our nations face,” said Prof. Amr Adly, the President of E-JUST.

“If you think about Research and Development for instance, this is something that both private and public entities should be able to outsource exclusively from our institutions, if we are to grow our economies and continent,” he challenged.

While reflecting on the tremendous impact graduates from PAUSTI have made in their respective countries, the institute’s Director, Prof. Gabriel Magoma underscored the need to come up with a way for universities to come up with mechanisms to keep in touch with alumni, and be able to quantify the impact they make in the society.

The three institutions also discussed a common approach to promoting academic collaboration in Africa, deepening Africa-Japan collaboration in research and academia, and deliberating how best universities can best position themselves as solution providers to the globe’s challenges.

iPIC’s Dr. Mutua(in labcoat) illustrates to Prof. Prof. Ahmed and Prof. Adly some of the creations at the prototyping lab

“We are delighted to welcome the E-JUST delegation to JKUAT. Our two institutions have had productive collaborations in a number of areas and this visit is only going to strengthen that spirit of partnership. Since 2016, we have collaborated in postgraduate training in key areas of energy engineering, materials processing as well as application of artificial intelligence in detection of crop diseases,” said Prof. Bernard Ikua, Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration and Finance.

“We are committed to building on this, and particularly initiating joint research initiatives bringing together JKUAT, E-JUST and PAUSTI. As a university, we have had a close working relationship with industry players, and I think this can only get better if we capitalize on demand-driven research,” added Prof. Ikua.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs, Prof. Robert Kinyua, paid tribute to the government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for technical and financial support to the three institutions.

“JICA has been a key pillar in the development of JKUAT. I particularly wish to thank Africa-ai-JAPAN project office for supporting the university through the current themes of capacity building (training and research), equipment development, industry linkage as well as global partnership,” opined Prof. Kinyua.

The meeting was also attended by Prof. Ahmed El Bab, Dr. Okan Takasei, and Ms. Sasaki Chikako from E-JUST and Prof. Hiroshi Koaze, the Africa-ai-Japan Project Chief Advisor, alongside other experts from the project.

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