The “AFRICA-ai-JAPAN”project is a new initiative supported by the Government of Japan, through JICA started in June, 2014 at JKUAT/PAUSTI.The term“ai” stands for “african innovation” and also has a specific meaning in Japanese for “love（あい・愛）”. The full title of the initiative is; AFRICAN UNION – african innovation -JKUAT AND PAUSTI NETWORK PROJECT.
JKUAT, PAUSTI and JICA recognize that Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in Africa has a practical and important role as Driving Force in mobilizing a sustainable and stronger economy in Africa. The same institutions also recognize that the involvement of African innovation concept in development of qualified human resource is indispensable in the implementation and successful outcomes of STI related endevours. For greater impact, it is also critical that higher education institutions across Africa embrace the African innovation concept in revitalizing and strengthening capacity of its human resource for the overall economic growth of the continent. The African innovation ‘ai’ concept is unique in that it promotes thefull utilization of local/indigenous knowledge, resources, experiences and wisdom generated and accumulated in Africa to solve africa’s problems.
The Commission of African Union (AUC) launched an Africa wide plan to establish the Pan African University (PAU) in 2008 in order to develop human resources for social and economic development in the African continent through raising the level of higher education institutions. The Pan African Union Institute of Basic Sciences, Technology, and Innovation (PAUSTI), one of the five institutes of PAU, was thus established in 2012 on the campus of JKUAT.
JKUAT is the host institute of PAUSTI and Japan is the lead thematic partner of PAUSTI. The relationship between JKUAT and Japan is historically long spanning from 1978 to 2000, a duration in which JKUAT has received a series of Technical Cooperations Awards and Grant Aids by the Government of Japan. Due to these collaborations and support, JKUAT has continued to grow into a strong university in the field of Agriculture, Science and Technology especially with emphasis on practical learning. Indeed it is testimony of its competitive reputation that JKUAT was chosen host to PAUSTI among universities in Kenya. However, for it to not only host PAUSTI but also facilitate excellent teaching, learning and research expected by PAU, there is urgent need to further strengthen the research capacity of JKUAT and that would turn it to a leading university of STI in Africa. This is necessitated by the rapid increase of students numbers, academic staff shortage, and aging equipment the University continues to experience since its formative years to date.
In January, 2014, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Kenya, the Government of Japan and AUC was signed to confirm their cooperation for advancing PAUSTI/JKUAT through the empowering of the host institute. Following this agreement, the Government of Japan through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in June 2014 initiated the ai Project to promote STI activities at PAUSTI/JKUAT.