Government Challenged to Tap into Students’ Innovations

Mr. Raval has a feel of the eco Cube, a solar powered power-bank combined with WI-FI hotspot. Looking on is VC, Prof. Ngumi (2nd left).

The government will only be able to curb unemployment and achieve the four pillars of its development agenda if it works closely with Universities as well as the private sector by investing heavily in youth-centric programmes aimed at empowering them to be part of the national efforts to provide tangible solutions to the challenges facing the country.

According to Mr. Narendra Raval, the Chairman and founder of Devki Group of Companies, Kenyan universities had become hubs of innovative talents that only needed to be tapped in order to realize the big dreams and aspirations the government aspired to achieve.

Addressing students, staff and other stakeholders during this year’s Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology’s (JKUAT) Tech Expo 9.0 Wednesday January 23, 2019, Mr Raval pointed out that “the skill, talent, ambition, self-drive and the hunger for growth abound in the youthful students that should be tapped.”

He lauded JKUAT as one of the Universities that the government should embrace in its desire to realize its focus, noting that the four development agendas; namely Food Security and Nutrition, Manufacturing, Affordable Housing and Universal Health Coverage were all key activities the University had already been training in from inception. “All what is required is the government to work closely with such like Universities to achieve not only the government development agenda, but also create employment for people.”

Njoroge Lyson, a student innovator, draws the attention of Mr. Raval with his Mobile Oscilloscope (MOSCI), a mobile phone connected oscilloscope to ease data collection and visualization.

Borrowing from his own life experience, where he started as a mere kiosk owner in Gikomba, Mr. Raval endearingly known as ‘Guru’, implored the student innovators to be risk takers, set attainable targets and come up with innovation that are sustainable to address the needs of the people.

“If you want to go far, you need to walk with people. In the entrepreneurship space, this means you need to come up with solutions people need,” advised Mr. Raval.

Driven by tireless hard work, an inherent business acumen and sheer tenacity to transform lives, he attested that providing solutions that people need is the main reason he runs a business empire with more than 4,500 employees spread across East Africa.

He likewise challenged the innovators to ensure that their projects are marketable and useful to the people. “I would like to urge you to remember that your innovation will not change lives until you take the next step and venture into the real world. Do not be afraid to start, no matter the scale.”

On her part, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi was pleased to note that the projects showcased were geared not only towards achieving the government’s four pillars of development; but also responded to some of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The ultimate goal of the Expo is to come up with products and ideas that will change lives. Since inception, our students’ creativity under the Tech Expo initiative has continued to demonstrate that the expo is a vibrant crucible for the distillation of innovative ideas into worthwhile projects and enterprises,” elucidated Prof. Ngumi.

Prof. Ngumi informed the congregation that JKUAT was focused on producing quality graduates with entrepreneurial minds and urged the government and private sector to partner with the university to help create an enabling environment where ideas and innovations are mentored to fruition.

Mr. Raval interact with the Walking Buddy innovation aimed at improving the navigation experience of the visual impaired people

This year’s Tech Expo edition themed: ‘Changing Lives through Innovation’ attracted 20 innovations from students focusing on the Big 4 and eight SDGs from the total 17. These are; the Third (3) SDG on Good health and well-being, Fourth (4) SDG on Quality Education, the Sixth (6) SDG on Clean Water and Sanitation, the Seventh (7) SDG on Affordable and Clean Energy, the Ninth (9) SDG on Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, the Eleventh (11) SDG on Sustainable Cities and Community), the Twelve (12) SDG on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns, and the Thirteenth (13) SDG which is on Climate Action.

Others who addressed the function included Deputy Vice Chancellors, Research Production and Extension (RPE) Prof. Mary Abukutsa, Prof. Robert Kinyua (Academic Affairs), Director Extension, Mr. Jeremiah Mbugua, Tech Expo Committee Chairman, Mr. Michael Waititu, Tech Expo Events Manager, Laurene Mutundu.

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