Residents of South Nyanza have a reason to smile following the decision by President Uhuru Kenyatta to award Tom Mboya University College a charter.
Tom Mboya University College in Homa Bay town will be the first public university in the region and has been tipped to transform the town's growth as the number of students increase.
The institution has been operating as a constituent college of Maseno University since it was started in October 2016. It has been offering degrees of Maseno University.
But upon being given the charter, the institution is now a fully-fledged university and the name has changed to Tom Mboya University. This means it will be offering its own degrees.
The charter was announced by the president while in Kakamega County, on Tuesday. The institution has been offering three main faculties with 27 academic programmes. The faculties are biological and physical sciences, business and economics, and education.
The university is also recruiting a vice-chancellor. Prof Charles Ochola, who has been heading the institution as the principal since the beginning, said they will introduce more courses.
He said they want to introduce programmes which enhance proper utilisation of Lake Victoria as a key resource in Nyanza.
This will involve understanding the lake to enable the university innovate ways through which it can transform the livelihood of the local community. Such activities include aquaculture and conservation of the lake and its environment.
“A university is required to create its own niche. Our niche is the blue economy. We are in Homa Bay County which has the largest share of Lake Victoria. We will use our innovative skills and research to utilise the lake and make it more beneficial to the local community,” Prof Ochola said.
In its accreditation report, the university has been given green light to offer 39 academic programmes for undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The accreditation report is the document that contains academic programmes a university is allowed to offer.
The institution’s student population has grown to 5,000 from 140 when it started in 2016.
Prof Ochola said the university would fuel economic growth as businesses flourish with the increase of students.
“If every student spends the least amount they can spend, Sh100, on food daily, it means there is a minimum circulation of Sh500,000 in a day in this town. This is a source of livelihood for many people here,” he said.
Tom Mboya University was named after the former Labour Minister the late Tom Mboya who was a resident of Homa Bay. Ochola said they would aspire to achieve Tom Mboya's vision.
“Tom Mboya believed in airlift of students from Kenya to overseas countries. We want to engage in international and local partnerships and bring students from overseas to join this university,” he added.