President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged Kenyans to make use of the available technologies and human capital in order to drive the country’s development agenda.
Speaking at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Juja Main Campus during celebrations to commemorate 20 years of the University’s autonomy, the President observed: “I am convinced from what I see, we have the technological capacity to drive our own agenda. If we are to become a middle level income economy, we should utilize our own human capital and technologies.”
In his address, President Uhuru paid glowing tribute to the founders of the present day JKUAT for playing a critical role that has translated into tangible developments at JKUAT since its inception. He singled out the Japanese Government for its thematic support to JKUAT since inception, which he termed as tangible and visible in various thematic areas of energy, citing the Sondu Miriu, Ol Karia Geothermal project and JKUAT itself.
The President further said, he was very happy that the university had made monumental developments especially in agriculture and technology, including the introduction of new academic programs such as marine engineering, mining and mineral processing, which he said, will be crucial to the country.
The President thus acknowledged the University for introducing marine engineering courses. He pledged his government’s support in marine engineering especially in the acquisition of the university’s training vessel, which will be critical in exploitation of resources produced by the country.
The Chancellor Prof. Geoffrey Moriaso Ole Maloiy, paid glowing tribute to the enduring spirit of the founders of JKUAT noting, “We owe a great deal to the vision and foresight of the founding father of our great Nation, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and his family for donating the 500 acres of land where the institution is located, while the Government of Japan gave technical and infrastructural support.”
Prof Maloiy, acknowledged the presence and contribution of the Japanese academics such as Prof. Hiroji Nakagawa and Lady Aiko Nakagawa from Kyoto University; Prof. Junichi Iwasa from Okayama University, Prof. Yutaka Fukui from Tottori University, and Prof. Izumi Ushiyama, President Ashikanga Institute of Technology, for their distinguished role in the growth of JKUAT.
The Chancellor observed that since its establishment as a result of bilateral cooperation between the Governments of Kenya and Japan, JKUAT has grown into a centre of excellence in various fields, exploring creative and innovative solutions to technological, social economic and cultural concerns.”
Noting that from 1981, the student population grew from 180 to the current figure of over 38,000 spread over four colleges and one faculty, which he further attributed to the visionary leadership of its founders and successive managers starting with the founding Principal, the late Mr. Jackson M. Githaiga to the current Vice Chancellor Prof. Mabel Imbuga, the Chancellor further appreciated the foresight, vision and wisdom of successive chancellors including retired President Daniel T. Arap Moi, late Prof. Ali A. Mazrui and Prof. Francis Gichaga.
While recalling the institution’s journey to autonomy, dating back to the late 1970s, when Japanese experts under Japan International Cooperation Agency undertook feasibility study on the creation of Jomo Kenyatta College of Agriculture and Technology, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Mabel Imbuga informed the gathering that the institution was primed to produce requisite manpower, particularly in agriculture and engineering to drive Kenya’s growing economy.
The Vice Chancellor stated that as research oriented institution, “JKUAT set up a Research Fund which has seen the institution internally invest KShs. 246.5 Million since 2005 to support and promote applied research.”
Adding that the institution has attracted over Kshs. 2.1 Billion from various development partners in the last five years, Prof. Imbuga cited a number of seminal research activities which have had a multiplier effect in the socio-economic vibrancy of the country such as the tissue culture banana research which has evolved into a Ksh. 6 Billion industry, transforming the lives of farmers across Kenyan counties, and the recent breakthrough in sugarcane tissue culture research at JKUAT which is poised to provide new impetus to Kenya’s troubled sugar industry.
Prof. Imbuga informed the president that in Maritime training and research , JKUAT is working with International Maritime Organization, Kenya Maritime Authority, Kenya Ports Authority and the Ministry of Transport to ensure JKUAT becomes a Centre of excellence in Maritime training in the region and foster Kenya’s maritime sector growth. Five of our students pursuing Bachelor of Science Degree in Marine engineering are currently in Korea for further practical seaboard training at the Korea Maritime University.
To translate its vast experience in ICT teaching and research into commercial output, the University, with support from Kenya Commercial Bank, has embarked on a scheme to locally assemble laptops. I am happy to report that the first generation the Laptop, branded Taifa, was officially launched in December 2014. Additionally, JKUAT in close consultation with Ministry of Education and other ICT stakeholders, is working on Taifa Junior, a tailor-made version of the laptop for children.
The function was also attended by His Excellency the Ambassador of Japan, Mr. Tatsushi Terada, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Principal Secretaries, Ag. Chairman of University Council, Dr. Rosa Muraguri-Mwololo, Council Members, Ms. Kae Yanagisawa, JICA Vice- President, national and county leaders, representatives of the various universities and organizations.