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Korea, Kenya partner to build university at Konza

The  Government of Kenya in partnership with the Republic of South Korea will 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 design and curriculum design for the University.

The institute, Kenya Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (Kenya- KAIST) to be established at Konza Technopolis, is modeled 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 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,” said Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) Chairman, Reuben Mutiso.

Mutiso stated that 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’.

“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,” he added.

In June 2017, Reuters named it “Asia Pacific’s Most Innovative University” for the second year running.

Mutiso further added that setting up Kenya -KAIST is purposed 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 industrializing middle-income country as envisioned in Kenya 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,” said Korea-KAIST President, Dr. Sung-Chul Shin.

Chul Shin observed that Kenya-KASIT will be constructed within the Phase one (1) A section at Konza which lies on 400 acres of land, adding that they were proud of this partnership with the Government of Kenya and Korea-KAIST as it holds promise to boost Kenya’s growth.

Speaking during the kick-off ceremony at the University of Nairobi, ICT PS, Jerome Ochieng said, “A number of reports have ranked Kenya second after South Africa in terms of innovation”.

Ochieng noted that 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 commercialization of academic research.

“As a country, we rank poorly in the number of registered patents and very few universities have commercial spin-offs that they can identify with. This can be largely attributed to lack of strong technology transfer offices that are to naturally focus on building strong collaboration between the industry and universities,” he said.

The  Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) CEO Eng. John  Tanui said that 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.

“There is a gap in the demand for and supply of high skilled engineers in Kenya. The country has also seen a brain drain where its skilled technical personnel have left for “Greener pastures abroad,” said Tanui.

The University will have three faculties whose core programme will include; Mechanical Electrical and ICT engineering, Chemical Civil and Agriculture; engineering/biotechnology and basic science education such as Maths and Physics.

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 made the most of the potentials of science and technology for its remarkable growth, becoming the only country in the world to transform from a recipient to a donor country of international aid.

The Ministry of Education appointed Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) to support the implementation of the Project.

By  Alice  Gworo

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