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National Research Fund bolsters Egerton’s projects

Egerton University has won a Sh53 million award from the National Research Fund (NRF) to conduct research and upgrade infrastructure in its veterinary medicine department.
Out of the amount, Sh41 million has been awarded jointly to Dean, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery Professor Inyagwa Muleke, Professor Njenga Munene and Professor Abdul Faraj.
The funds disbursed under NRF’s Competitive Institutional Infrastructure Support Project would be used to equip the University’s Safe Foods Reference Laboratory (SAFLAB) from 2018 to 2022.
Separately, Professor Muleke won Sh12 million from the fund under the Competitive Multidisciplinary NRF Projects category to undertake research in a Food Safety Project.
National Research Fund (NRF) is a statutory body mandated to facilitate research for the advancement of science, technology and innovation for national development.
Under the Competitive Institutional Infrastructure Support Project programme, successful applications are financed from the range of Sh3 million to 100, 000, 0000 million to identify, acquire and install the infrastructure.
According to the NRF, public universities and their constituent colleges in 2018 received 80.3 per cent of the total research funds while private universities received 19.7 per cent.
NRF data shows that 68 per cent of the funding for universities is from government and internal sources, compared to 32 per cent, which comes from industry, NGOs and other donors.
Education CS Amina Mohamed has announced the government would increase research and innovation fund from Sh1.9 billion to Sh3 billion.
“The Sh41 million award is the National government’s strategic response to support innovation and enable Egerton University build its research capacity. It is geared to create robust, responsive and demand-driven research systems at our institution,” said Professor Muleke.
To win funding from NRF, applicants are required to provide a clear justification of the type of research infrastructure needed and demonstrate how it will benefit their respective colleges or Universities and other national institutions.
“Proposed research projects must be in line with national priorities expounded in the Vision 2030 with more emphasis on research which will contribute new knowledge applicable to either Universal Health Care, Food and Nutrition Security, Affordable Housing as well as Industrialization, Manufacturing and Agro-processing.
The Research should also address issues under Sustainable Development Goals as well as the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA 2024) which is the blueprint for Africa’s long term Agenda 2063,” outlines a guide to institutions from NRF.
On Infrastructure support programme, applicants are required to furnish NRF with a well-articulated plan that ensures national access to the infrastructure by other institutions and researchers in Kenya, indicate the available capacity to utilize the infrastructure and provide a cost-effective plan of maintenance
In July 2018, the University of Nairobi received the lion’s share of the Sh1.9 billion set aside by the government for research.
The institution received Sh537.95 million, the highest among private and public institutions of higher learning.
Kenyatta University received Sh456.59 million, while Moi University got Sh302.12 million.
In a list dominated by public universities, the highest ranked private university was Strathmore at seventh position after receiving Sh100 million.
Mt Kenya University was second among private universities and ninth overall. Aga Khan University was ranked third and position 10 overall.
A survey conducted by CPS International in July revealed that local universities lean more towards science-related topics.
This was attributed to the fact that most of the funding comes from the government, which despite favouring science-related research, also ends up limiting the scope of research for most universities.
The study highlighted the funding gaps in universities’ research, citing that the minimum threshold for funding research at any university in Kenya was about Sh19.5 million.
The research also revealed that county governments were not funding or assisting universities in their various study needs.
The survey demonstrated that the availability of funds to respective universities has a great impact on the number of publications, citations and academic journal referrals for each university.
By Anne Mwale

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