Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and the Technical University of Munich (TUM), have resolved to leverage on existing partnership to strengthen research collaboration in the areas of Renewable Energy and Entrepreneurship with a view of enhancing sustainable development in rural communities.
The collaboration is within the framework of the Sustainable Energies, Entrepreneurship and Development (SEED) Project, a 5-year joint initiative of JKUAT’s College of Engineering and Technology (COETEC) and TUM, Germany.
The project is aimed at offering higher education at the intersection of sustainable energies and entrepreneurship, and conducting research to contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Speaking on Wednesday, 18th August, 2021, Johannes Winklmaier, the Project and Doctoral Program Coordinator for the TUM SEED Center, commended the JKUAT team for the great progress made so far, despite the challenges and delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He was in the University to pay a courtesy call on the project team members.
“For the past one and a half years, we’ve just been communicating via Zoom, and we did great work so far. We have eight partner universities in this project, but I have to say the JKUAT team has been outstanding, so when I got an opportunity to travel out of Germany for the first time since the pandemic struck, Kenya was my obvious destination. It’s been great interacting with the team behind the project in real life for the first time, and get to see how much more we can accomplish together,” said Johannes.
Mr. Winklmaier was particularly impressed to note that the SEED Project team at JKUAT is multidisciplinary, providing a holistic research environment for greater success and collaborations, which, he added, accelerates the magnitude of social impact.
On his part, the JKUAT SEED Project Lead and COETEC Acting Principal, Dr. Eng. Hiram Ndiritu, welcomed the prospects of further collaborations with the University, intimating that the research environment in the University is vibrant, with a proven track record of capacity building, technology transfer to communities, and a significant contribution to sustainable development.
Accompanied by the JKUAT SEED Project Coordinating Officer, Mr. Dennis Koech, Johannes proceeded to Olderkesi, Narok County where the project is being implemented, to interact with the community members and get further insights on the project dynamics.
A mini-grid plant will be installed at the location, to provide more than 500 residents with renewable energy, and spur entrepreneurial activities. It will also serve as a living lab, giving research opportunities for students to acquire practical and experiential knowledge in generation, use, management and storage of clean energy.
“It’s of great importance and value being here, able to see, feel, and smell the reality and talk to the people. I see now how great the work of the JKUAT team has been, because it’s just amazing how motivated and excited the community is about this project,” said Johannes.
“I’m glad that this project has taken an interactive engagement approach with the community members, rather than just a top-down implementation of decisions made in Munich, or Nairobi. I believe that this community-centered approach will ensure greater sustainability and ownership of the project,” added Johannes.
Echoing similar sentiments, Mr. Koech thanked the community members for their continued collaboration with the project team, terming their enthusiasm as a major catalyst to the progress made in the project so far.
“We would not have been here if not for the community’s support. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the local leadership, Narok County Government, residents, and the Olderkesi SEED Cooperative Society members and other stakeholders. We will be installing the mini-grid in the next few weeks,” said Koech.