Unifying African Research to Enhance Synergies

L-R: Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Ngumi, PS Dr. Beatrice Inyangala, JKUAT Council Chair, Dr. Micah Onsando and Nacosti Director General Prof. Walter Oyawa

Researchers from across East and Southern Africa universities have convened at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) to participate in discussions targeted at amplifying research collaboration and addressing industry voids throughout the African continent, with a particular focus on agriculture, engineering, and ICT domains. The objective is to collectively tackle mutual challenges and foster sustainable solutions.

Organized under the auspices of the Africa-ai-Japan Project, the Regional Linkages Workshop held March 5-7, 2024 attracted African Scholars from leading institutions from over 10 African countries including Uganda, Botswana, South Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, and Egypt.

Principal Secretary for Higher Education and Research, Dr. Beatrice Inyangala emphasized the importance of South-to-South linkages, stating, “The presence of researchers and scientists from across Africa demonstrates a high interest affinity for South-to-South linkages. I am confident that together we can create solutions to African problems.”

Prof. Robert Kinyua makes his remarks during the forum

She commended the endeavor to establish robust partnerships and collaborations transcending borders, saying the researchers have laid formidable groundwork for exploring numerous areas of shared interest.

JKUAT Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi, highlighted the institution’s collaboration with JICA through the AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project, stating that the partnership has propelled JKUAT to the forefront of educational and research excellence.

Prof. Ngumi emphasized JKUAT’s commitment to spearheading transformative initiatives addressing societal and industrial challenges, underscoring the Regional Linkage Workshop as a critical platform for dialogue and collaboration.

Participants follow proceedings

JKUAT Chair of Council, Dr. Micah Onsando, emphasized the significance of the Regional Linkages Workshop as a platform for fostering a Pan-African profile and facilitating discussions on collaborations.

He disclosed that the JKUAT Council had committed to facilitating the commercialization of two products from the University within the next three years. These products will be incorporated into key industries and a mid-sized enterprise, aiming to enhance the Kenyan economy.

Dr. Onsando urged researchers to take more initiative in ensuring the commercialization of their innovations.

“Why are our research findings still shelved? It is because most researchers only conduct research up to the proof of concept. Researchers should take the initiative to move products all the way to product development. If we can shift that mindset, our economies will definetly transform,” said Dr. Onsando.

Chief Advisor, AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project, Prof. Hiroshi Koaze, reaffirmed his commitment to continued partnership with JKUAT. He commended the supportive mandates of the projects to JKUAT, noting that they are pegged on four key areas: capacity building, supporting research, industry dissemination, and research and innovation networks.

While providing a timeline of support from the Japanese government to JKUAT, Prof. Koaze underscored the significance of Kenya-Japan partnership, emphasizing its role in empowering African communities through technology and innovation.

Deputy Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Prof. Robert Kinyua, emphasized the significance of the Regional Linkage Workshop as a unique opportunity to tap into Africa’s potential. Prof. Kinyua, who doubles as the Director of the Africa-ai-Japan project, highlighted universities as pivotal in addressing Africa’s challenges, underscoring the workshop’s aim to expedite collaborative efforts.

In bid to expedite research advancement, Prof. Kinyua proposed the development of curricula tailored to address regional issues and the establishment of joint grant application platforms to tackle sustainability challenges.

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