Innovation and Technology has been lauded as a critical driver in the achievement of sustainable development and lasting socio-economic transformation. This was the exemplified at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) Open Day held on Friday 2 September, 2022 at the University Main Campus in Juja.
The annual event, which was being held for the 11th time, is meant to provide a window and platform to prospective students, researchers, innovators, industry and other stakeholders to interact and engage with innovations and technologies incepted at JKUAT. Innovations on display covered the areas of Agriculture, Value Addition, Technology, Information Communication Technology, Mechanization, Health, Engineering, among others.
In his keynote address to the innovators, students, and university community, the Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPROBA) CEO, Dr. Wilfred Marube, underscored the critical role that innovation and technology holds in the socio-economic development and export sector.
“This University focuses on Training, Research, Innovation, and Technology transfer. These logical steps indicate the huge opportunities for collaboration with various industry players and government agencies, including the one I serve. Industrialization, especially agro-processing for the micro and small and medium enterprises, is key, and I am happy to have interacted with a number of innovations in that category. In the coming days, we will be reaching out to the university to strike a collaboration in this regard,” he said.
Dr. Marube further averred that, with the African Continental Free Trade Area being in effect, there exists a great opportunity for innovations and solutions originating from universities.
“The future is not just about Kenya; the future is Africa. As we innovate our products, embark on our studies and our careers, let us be aware that we must think beyond our borders, because Africa intends to trade as one.”
Innovations and novel technologies however, cannot contribute to sustainable development in isolation. They have to be nurtured within an enabling environment, and with a multi-stakeholder approach, according to Dr. Marube.
“It is in this regard that I also wish to plead for more support to higher education institutions such as JKUAT which have over time, demonstrated a rare focus and dedication to sustainable research and innovation culture for the country’s development,” he implored.
On her part, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi, underpinned the critical role of innovation and technology in the achievement of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063, terming it a silver bullet and a catalyst of accomplishing long-lasting social impact.
“We all recognize that Vision 2030 includes the sector plans for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) and Education Development. These plans provide robust platforms for leveraging STI in transforming the country’s economy through various priority areas,” she opined.
Prof. Ngumi further emphasized the significance of having platforms such as the Open Day for prospective students to get sufficient career guidance and mentorship, as well as inculcate an innovative culture. A total of 19 secondary schools attended the Open Day, with close to 1000 students in attendance.
“This University is cognizant of the fact that the youth in Kenya constitute a critical mass for the country’s progress and therefore, we need to prepare and equip them with relevant information, skills and knowledge for successful growth and progress at individual, community and national level,” added Prof. Ngumi.
The JKUAT Open Day served as a precursor to the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) shows, where the university will be participating in the Central Kenya show in Nyeri, and the Nairobi International Trade Fair in the course of September.
The JKUAT Open Day was also graced by the University Council members and Management, led by Council Chair, Amb. (Eng.) Mahboub Maalim, Council members; Dr. Salome Gichura, Mr. Joseph Gitonga, Deputy Vice Chancellors; Prof. Bernard Ikua, Prof. Robert Kinyua, Prof. Jackson Kwanza, among other members of management.