Kenyan universities will receive a lion's share of Sh6 billion investment by technology firm IBM. This was announced at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) that ended in Nairobi yesterday.
The firm said 50 out of the 80 universities that will benefit from the investment would be from Kenya.
The investment will be spread over the next three years in the programme the firm is marketing as targeting to develop the next generation of technical talent in Africa. It is not yet clear which universities will benefit, but the firm has already set up a research centre at Catholic University.
"I cannot say at this moment how much money will come to Kenya but just to give an indication, 50 out of the 80 universities to be selected are Kenyan and this means a significant portion will come to the country," said IBM East Africa Country General Manager Nick Nesbitt in an interview.
The firm said the investment of Sh6billion would go into the development of technical skills, which has been a key highlight of the conference. It hopes to scale the investment down to middle level colleges and other tertiary institutions. Speaker after speaker who attended the conference singled out the skills gap in the industry and lack of partnerships between industry and training institutions as one of the biggest challenges to entrepreneurship in Kenya.
During the briefing presided over by Education Cabinet Secretary Joseph Kaimenyi, IBM said the remaining 30 universities will be selected from across the African continent. Prof Kaimenyi said the Government will soon launch the national research fund that will receive an equivalent of 2 per cent funding of Kenya's GDP every year.
"We shall also set up a national innovation agency to focus on innovation in Kenya. As governments in the East Africa region, we have agreed to conduct a skills gap study to know what we are lacking as we grow," Kaimenyi said.
He noted that as the country builds the Standard Gauge Railway, discovers oil and starts developing coal plants, it is entering into a phase where technical skills will be critical. IBM is partnering with the Kenya Education Network (KENET) to deliver advanced hands-on certification courses to faculty and students of 50 Kenyan universities over KENET's broadband network.
IBM is one of the biggest American technology companies fighting for market share with Chinese and Japanese companies in Kenya.