Hailing from Palapye, somewhere halfway between Francistown and Gaborone, Botswana, Mr. Joseph Morake is a man on a mission; to revolutionize Africa’s manufacturing space through laser technology.
Kicking off his Master of Science Degree in Manufacturing Engineering at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), the Motswana is the first recipient of the Education for Laser-Based Manufacturing project scholarship posted to the University.
The European Union-funded Education for Laser-Based Manufacturing (ELbM) project is a consortium of academic and industrial institutions formed in response to the shortage of qualified teaching and research faculty in manufacturing in Africa. JKUAT, through the College of Engineering and Technology (COETEC) was competitively awarded the European Union funding for the ELbM project in 2019, with the project officially commencing in 2020.
In the first round, the University received its first scholar in Mr. Joseph Morake, who arrived in the country in June 2021. He will be undertaking research in Laser Additive Manufacturing, an upcoming area of industrial application in Africa.
ELbM project is set to run for five years, with its main focus being the training of human resource to support manufacturing in Africa, while availing modern equipment for training in laser-based manufacturing. Other partner institutions within the consortium includes Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) in Botswana, Stellenbosch University in South Africa, and the Federal University of Petroleum Resources in Nigeria.
Industrial partners in the consortium include the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research/Laser-Based Manufacturing Research Group (CSIR/LEM), South Africa, the African Laser Centre (ALC), and Universita di Bologna, in Italy.
During a brief ceremony to welcome and induct Mr. Morake into the College, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, COETEC Acting Principal, Dr. Eng. Hiram Ndiritu intimated that the project will offer critical capacity building opportunities for university staff and students, and further strengthen JKUAT’s linkages with other institutions of higher learning in Africa.
“Laser Based Manufacturing is a fairly novel area in Kenya and most of Africa, so research in this area will be very critical to development. Through the support of the European Union in this project, the College will exponentially increase its research capacity,” added Dr. Ndiritu.
Dr. Rehema Ndeda, a member of the project’s coordinating team and lecturer in the School of Mechanical Manufacturing and Materials Engineering (SoMMME), called on staff and students in JKUAT, Kenya and from across the continent to apply for scholarships in the ongoing second call for applications (https://scholarship.elbmmobility.org/), which closes on November 15, 2021.
“Some of the fields available for scholarship include Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials and Metallurgical Engineering, and Biomaterials Engineering. A total of 25 scholarships comprising of 14 Masters, 7PhDs and 4 Staff scholarships are available, and will be jointly administered by the four African partner institutions, where students and staff will engage in postgraduate studies, research, teaching or training,” she said.
Dr. Rehema, herself a beneficiary of the project in the past as a PhD student, affirms that the opportunity gave her a lot of exposure, not just through knowledge acquisition and access to state-of-the-art equipment, but also critical insights in grant writing. She undertook her PhD in Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Botswana.
As he adjusts to life at JKUAT in particular, and Kenya in general, Morake remains fully cognizant of the fact that the opportunity he has is a prestigious one, and is keen on exploiting it to the maximum.
“When I applied for this opportunity, I knew I was not just competing against fellow countrymen, but also other qualified students across the continent, so I’m grateful for this opportunity. I’m looking forward to a peerless engineering experience, and to changing Africa’s manufacturing space,” he asserts.