Prof. Makoto Kimura has seen JKUAT grow in leaps and bounds in terms of manpower, infrastructure and student numbers. Alongside his teaching and mentorship duties, Prof. Kimura also took time to familiarize himself with Kenya’s rural make-up, traveling to different parts of the country.
One thing however struck the young Kimura during his tours. Rural roads were impassable. Farmers could not take their produce to the market; effectively hampering rural economies.
This rural plight led Prof. Kimura to introduce a lost cost, low maintenance and durable roadbuilding technology. Using sand filled gunny bags, the soil mechanics engineer would champion an ingenious way to firm up rural roads, making them usable.
To his amusement, the technology became very popular; finding wider use in various parts of Kenya and the rest of the world. And so, the young scholar began consolidating his place as a solutions provider.
When JICA came back as lead thematic partners for the implementation of the JKUAT based Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation, Prof. Kimura was more than willing to devote his years of experience to the cause.
He was instrumental in formation of the Supporting Committee of the AFRICA-ai- JAPAN Project. The Committee which he chairs brings together professionals from top Japanese Universities like Kyoto, Okayama, Totori and Obihiro with a mandate to facilitate academic and research cooperation with African counterparts.
Prof. Kimura believes that Africa is rich in natural resources, whose economic value, if tapped, could change the fortunes of the continent. He however says, for a turn around to happen, the continent must prioritize research beyond policy into practical approach.
‘The AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project is a good initiative. It brings together students from across the continent through PAUSTI to share and learn. It is now time for the students to ask relevant questions and devote their talent and energy in search of sustainable answers,’ he avers
The governments in the continent, he advises, should complement the effort of the research by putting in place sound infrastructure especially the transport sector. This, he said, was important if Africa was to withstand challenges of modern times like climate change.
Prof. Kimura was in Kenya to deliver a seminar to JKUAT/PAUSTI students and staff as part of the strategic objectives of the AFRICA-ai-JAPAN.