As a University, JKUAT has enjoyed long and lasting relations with the Japanese government now spanning over 40 years. With over 400 academic programmes being offered in five colleges, JKUAT boasts of being the only public university in Kenya that was born out of a bilateral technical co-operation, a move that has bolstered its position as an academic giant in the region.
In an interview with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) documentary team, Monday, February 22, Vice Chancellor Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi said the development of JKUAT over the years has taken place in the backdrop of strong support from the Government of Japan through JICA.
The Agency, she noted, has been steadfast in supporting various teaching and research functions through scholarships such as the Monbusho scholarship, the establishment of modern infrastructure and linkages with other universities across the globe.
“The linkages and collaborations between our researchers and those from other universities has made it possible for JKUAT to emerge as a regional research and innovation powerhouse offering programmes in the fields of agriculture, engineering, technology, health sciences, enterprises development, built environment and other applied sciences,” elucidated Prof. Ngumi.
Key infrastructure outputs that JICA has facilitated include; an innovation Prototyping and Invention Centre (iPIC); a facility that is equipped with an array of tools to promote prototyping, invention and manufacturing in Kenya and the region; Small Animal Facility for Research and Innovation (SAFARI) that offers accessible quality training and research in the use of small animals in order to produce innovations in the field of human and animal health sciences and other applied sciences to improve health, productivity and overall wellbeing.
The most recent infrastructural output by JICA is the modernized Agricultural Laboratory Building (ALB), aimed at responding to emerging training, research and technology transfer needs of Kenya and Africa at large.
Prof. Ngumi, further lauded Japan’s contribution in the competitive bid to host the African Union fronted Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI) in 2012. The graduate training facility, also supported by JICA, plays a key role in promoting scientific research and technology transfer and integration in Africa through higher education.
“With the modern equipped laboratories and skilled human resource, PAUSTI is indeed a notable development in the region, established to solidify and drive the agenda for Africa’s progress,” said the Vice Chancellor.
Prof. Ngumi noted that JICA through the African Union-african innovation-JKUAT And PAUSTI Network (AFRICA-ai-JAPAN) project, has continued to organize public lectures from both academia and industry players from Japan in a bid to cement continuing and historical collaboration between JKUAT and Japan in the areas of education, research, knowledge-sharing, and development.
The Vice Chancellor further pointed out that JKUAT has over the years participated in a number of activities aimed at enhancing Kenya-Japan cooperation in the field of higher education, research and innovation.
“We were honoured to host a number of Pre-TICAD events, including a conference on higher education and a panel discussion on the role of academia, government and private sector in fostering inclusive growth for Africa,” she told the attentive documentary team that had visited her for an interview.
The pre-events, Prof. Ngumi told them, were of great significance to JKUAT and a historic turning point for the country and continent at large.