Kenya-KAIST to be set up at Konza, focus on elite training in science and technology




The government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Education, is in partnership with the South Korea government to 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 and SUNJIN Engineering & Architecture to undertake the architectural design and curriculum design for the University.

The institute, to be known as the 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.

(TOP: KoTDA CEO Eng John Tanui, left, shaked hands with Korea-KAIST President Dr Sung-Chul Shin).

The Kenya-KAIST institute was conceived to benchmark the development experience that South Korea has. Leveraging on skilled graduates from Korea-KAIST, 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 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. 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,” said Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) Chairman Reuben Mutiso.

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

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. Kenya-KASIT will be constructed within the Phase one (1) A section at Konza which lies on 400 acres of land. We are proud of this partnership with the Government of Kenya and Korea-KAIST as it holds promise to boost Kenya’s growth,” said Korea-KAIST President Dr. Sung-Chul Shin.

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

Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) CEO Eng John Tanui said: “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. 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.”

The University will have three faculties whose core programme will include; Mechanical Electrical and ICT engineeringChemical Civil and Agriculture; engineering/biotechnology and Basic science education such as math’s and physics.

The Ministry of Education appointed KoTDA to support the implementation of the Kenya-KAIST project.

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