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Universities propel Kenya to second position on innovation ranking

By Fredrick Oginga | August 29th 2019

Innovations and inventions by students and staff in institutions across the country has made Kenya the second-leading innovation hub in sub-Saharan Africa.

Global innovation ratings released this month by the World Intellectual Property Organisation has placed Kenya second in Sub-Sahara Africa, behind South Africa.

According to the report, the country has also outshined others in matching their level of innovation to general economic development.

As a result, Kenya enjoys same capacity as Vietnam, India and the Republic of Moldova.

Apart from other research agencies both public and private, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKuat), Moi University, Kenyatta University, Strathmore University and University of Nairobi also feature in the contributors list.

Both Jkuat and Moi University’s technology assembling plants have been mentioned as innovation milestones achieved by the country. The plants have earned the two institutions multibillion-shilling international and local tenders.

They are responsible for the assembling and configuration of the digital devices currently being used in the 2019 national population census.

They were also at the forefront in the implementation of the Government’s digital literacy program and are key to the achievement of the Big Four Agenda.

The report, christened ‘The Global Innovation Index’, points out the establishment of incubation centres and cropping up of successful tech startups as indicators of the growth recorded in the country.

Individual innovations by staff and students has also contributed to the country’s rank.

Key among the notable researches and innovations, which have put Kenya on the Global map include: Jkuat don’s shoe polish made from the Black Jack plant; Mount Kenya University’s don Donatus Njoroge’s novel bio-pesticide, to manage post-harvest losses in grains; Technical University of Kenya engineering student Henry Onyango’s cooking gas tracking device; Roy Allela’s,25, pair of smart gloves with flex sensors for the deaf and Zetech University student Kennedy Muthungu’s smart cane with a special coded language for the blind.

Roy’s Smart Glove innovation scooped the Trailblazer Award by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers while Donatus Njoroge’s bio-pesticide scooped the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (Gist Tech-1) 2019 Award, beating 23 other finalists from around the world.

The report places Switzerland as the leading innovation hub in the world. Sweden ranks above the US at second position.

South Africa who top in Africa are ranked 63rd in the world. Kenya is 77th and Mauritius 82nd globally.

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