South Korea and Kenya partner to establish a premier scientific-based University
By Rolex Owino
The Government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Education, is in partnership with the Republic of South Korea to establish a graduate only university at Konza Technopolis.
The Ministry of Education has since appointed a consortium of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Architects & Engineering Co. Ltd. and SUNJIN Engineering & Architecture CO. Ltd – to undertake the architectural and curriculum design for the University.
The institute, Kenya Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (Kenya-KAIST), to be established at Konza Technopolis – is modelled after the Korean Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (Korea-KAIST), whose design model is a research focused university that fosters elite human resources in science and technology needed by the nation.
The Kenya-KAIST institute was conceived to benchmark the development experience that the Republic of South Korea had.
Leveraging on skilled graduates from Korea-KAIST, the Republic of South Korea has immensely benefited from the institute’s success and remarkable growth in technology, by becoming one of the few country’s – to transition from a recipient of international aid, to a major global donor.
“The adoption of the Korea-KAIST model is deliberate. We want to build a nurturing environment for graduate students not only in Kenya, but also in East Africa, that will see an innovative growth, rallied by science, in the region. A highly-educated nation is paramount to its economic, social and political success, it is therefore our hope that this new venture will be embraced by the people of Kenya,” said Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) Chairman, Reuben Mutiso.
Korea- KAIST has shown its capacity to innovate and spin off successful ventures such as -Samsung and LG. In 2014, Korea- KAIST was ranked third place in the Times Higher Education’s “100 Under 50” ranking of the world’s best universities, less than half a century old.
In June 2017, Reuters named it “Asia Pacific’s Most Innovative University” -for the second year running.
Setting up Kenya -KAIST aims to provide high-quality education in Science and Technology in order to generate high-skilled engineers and scientists with both theory and practical knowledge, and to conduct socially relevant research and development (R&D) – to improve national competitiveness and transform Kenya into an industrialising middle-income country, as envisioned in Kenya’s Vision 2030 agenda.
“The making of well-trained graduates in Science and Technology will contribute to the growth of a knowledge based economy and sustainable growth with innovation. Kenya-KASIT will be constructed within the Phase one, A section at Konza, which lies on 400 acres of land. We are proud of this partnership with the Government of Kenya and Korea-KAIST as it holds promise to boost Kenya’s growth,” said Korea-KAIST President, Dr. Sung-Chul Shin.
Speaking during the kick-off ceremony, Jerome Ochieng, Kenya’s ICT Principal Secretary, said: “A number of reports have ranked Kenya second after South Africa in terms of innovation. This is good progress, however, there is a growing concern about Kenya’s poor track record on the transfer of technology from the university to the industry and the commercialisation of academic research.”
As a country, Kenya ranks poorly in the number of registered patents and very few universities have commercial spin-offs that they can claim ownership to.
This can be largely attributed to the lack of robust Technology Transfer Offices – that are dedicated to focusing on building strong collaborations between industry and academia.
“There is a gap in the demand for and supply of high skilled engineers in Kenya. The country has also seen a brain drain, whereby a number of its skilled technical personnel have left for greener pastures abroad. There is also need to upgrade skills to meet both traditional and emerging areas of industrial and technical development, Kenya-KAIST development is therefore a good boost for Kenya,” said Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) CEO Engineer, John Tanui.
The University will have three faculties whose core programmes will include; Mechanical Electrical & ICT engineering, Chemical Civil & Agriculture engineering/biotechnology and Basic science education such as maths and physics.
The Ministry of Education appointed Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) – to support the implementation of the Project.
Source: ASV & The Exchange.