Strengthening Collaboration: Stellenbosch University and JKUAT Foster Partnerships

On May 29, 2023, a delegation from Stellenbosch University, South Africa, Faculty of AgriSciences, led by Dr. Nico Elema, visited Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CoANRE), to discuss future collaborations between the two institutions and their contributions to higher education sectors and continental industries.

The delegation recognized JKUAT as a notable university in the region that fosters and strengthens growth in learning, research, and innovation in Food and Nutritional Sciences, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences.

During their visit, the teams exchanged knowledge in areas such as food and nutrition security, sustainable agriculture, animal health, and agricultural value addition.

Dr. Elema emphasized the importance of identifying special niche areas within each institution and forging collaborative research and innovation in those areas to ensure a fruitful and impactful collaboration.

“We are looking forward to establishing and strengthening relationships in areas of mutual interest through student/staff exchanges, technology and innovation sharing, bilateral conferences, webinars, and preliminary research-related activities such as joint grant proposals,” said Dr. Elema.

Prof. Daniel Sila, the Principal of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at JKUAT, warmly welcomed the delegation and expressed JKUAT’s eagerness to work with Stellenbosch University. He emphasized JKUAT’s vision of becoming a university of global excellence and reiterated the institution’s reverence for inter-university collaborations.

“We strive to become a research, innovation and entrepreneurial-oriented university. Over the years, we have encouraged and continue to encourage our researchers to engage in innovative multidisciplinary research to solve societal and industry issues”. Prof. Sila said.

The delegation toured various facilities, project sites, and laboratories under the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CoANRE) at JKUAT to assess the activities and explore potential collaboration opportunities.

Also present during the visit were the JICA Africa-ai Japan Project team, including Chief Advisor Prof. H. Koaze, JICA Expert Dr. S. Aoki, and Projects Coordinator Ms. M. Toda.

Round the table discussions

Prof. Koaze explained that the collaboration aligned with the project’s mission to promote innovative research in Africa using indigenous knowledge, resources, experiences, and wisdom through science, technology, and innovation (STI).

According to the Chief Advisor, the project’s key performance indicators focused on capacity development in human resources, facilities, and infrastructure; research funding for innovations; industrial linkages; and global partnerships, with the goal of industry development in STI areas in Africa.

“This would be achieved through capacity building programs such as webinars, human resource exchanges, PhD programs, collaborative research, sandwich programs, and long-term and short-term training,” explained Prof. Koaze.

The Government of Japan, through JICA, has provided support and partnership to JKUAT, strengthening its research capacity over the years. This support has enabled the university to lead globally, especially through linkages and collaborations with various Japanese universities and industries in the core areas of science, technology, and agriculture.

In January, the project benchmarked with Stellenbosch University to identify potential core areas of collaboration and partnership, particularly in the fields of sciences, technology, engineering, and agriculture.

The Stellenbosch University Faculty AgriSciences team, COANRE Heads of Departments and Africa-ai-Japan Project team share a commemorative photo after the discussions

(Posted by Esther Ndiwa)