AFRICA-ai-JAPAN second phase gets the nod

Participants of the Joint Coordination Committee meeting pose for a group photo after the meeting.
The African Union-african innovation-JKUAT and PAUSTI Network (AFRICA-ai-JAPAN) project second phase has been given the green light for another five years beginning, June 2020. This was revealed during the 5th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting held at JKUAT Main Campus, November 20, 2019.

JICA Kenya Chief Representative, Mr Komori Katsutoshi, while lauding the partnership, collaboration and commitment witnessed by the project partners said, the second phase of the project aims at enhancing the development of human resource in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).

“The second phase of the AFRICA-ai-JAPAN project aims to establish educational and research institutions of STI to develop human resources in Africa and to respond to practical needs in the society through collaboration with the communities, industry and higher education institutions in Africa,” said Mr Komori.

Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi, expressed her gratitude towards the ratification of the second phase of the project and assured the Japanese government through JICA of JKUAT’s commitment towards the project.

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“AFRICA-ai-JAPAN project has enabled JKUAT to solidify its international standing as a strong model for scientific and technological research and innovation,” said Prof. Ngumi. She further urged the partners and project researchers to delve in meaningful research that will not only solve the problems of Kenya but the continent’s at large.  

On one of the successes of the project, Prof. Ngumi said the Pan African University, Institute of Basic Science, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI) has emerged as a leading institute of the PAU. The Institute has trained 565 students from 39 African countries and in May 2019, PAUSTI admitted 115 students with 41 of them pursuing PhD courses in various disciplines.

Mr. Dan Mesis from the State Department of University Education stated that JKUAT has come of age in terms of research and innovation and was confident the project will be vital in propelling the country and continent to greater heights.

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“As a continent, we need tangible research outputs that will help Africa address issues such as food security and embrace manufacturing,” explained Mr. Mesis, who was representing Prof. Collete Suda, Chief Administrative Secretary and Principal Secretary, Higher Education.

While acknowledging that the research capacity of JKUAT has improved immensely, the Chairman, Japanese Supporting Universities Consortium, Prof. M. Kimura addressing the JCC on Skype from Japan, encouraged researchers to focus on more specialized research work with a bias on communities. He also urged the old hand researchers to mentor and nurture the young and budding researchers to ensure sustainability of the research landscape.  

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AFRICA-ai-JAPAN project, a tripartite agreement among Government of Japan, African Union Commission (AUC) and Government of Kenya, had earlier this year signed a one-year extension of Phase I which witnessed the introduction of the Center for Scientific Equipment Maintenance (CeSEM). The center has enhanced the capacity of the university in relation to maintaining and repairing various equipment at the university.

The Project is implemented through five sub-taskforces, focusing on key areas of consequence to Africa’s development aspirations. These sub-taskforces include the Innovation and Prototyping Integrated Centre (iPIC); Innovation Centre for Bio-resources (iCB); Innovation Centre for Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (iCMoB) and Innovative Center for Computing and Technological Solutions (iCCATS) and the Innovation Center for Product, Development and Commercialization (iPDeC). The sub-taskforces approach innovation research activities in a multidisciplinary way.

The JCC meeting was also attended by JICA’s HQ Director, Technical and Higher Education Division, Dr. Naoki Umemiya, Deputy Vice Chancellors; Prof. Mary Abukutsa, Prof. Robert Kinyua and Prof. Bernard Ikua; AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project Chief Advisor, Prof. Hiroshi Koaze and PAUSTI Registrar, Dr. Jane Ngethe.

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JKUATAFRICA-ai-JAPANKomori Katsutoshi