Nairobi, Kenya June 05, 2018. Her Excellency Ambassador Amina Mohamed, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Education met with a delegation from the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) to discuss Kenya’s role in strengthening the higher education, science, technology and innovation sector in Africa. The meeting took place at the Ministry of Education Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. The Cabinet Secretary noted, among other things, the need to strengthen the linkages between higher education institutions and technical vocational and training institutions (TVETs) to ensure that graduates have the relevant skills to support development processes in Africa. She applauded RUFORUM for strengthening collaboration between African universities on the continent and confirmed the support of the Ministry of Education to RUFORUM and its activities.
“I am very happy that this Sixth Africa Higher Education Week is going to be hosted by Kenya. You have our full support as a Ministry”– Amb. Amina Mohamed
The meeting also discussed the upcoming Sixth African Higher Education week and RUFORUM Biennial Conference which will provide a platform for dialogue on the need for universities to support the generation of knowledge and training of graduates to improve profit driven agriculture in Africa for economic growth and achievement of Agenda 2063. Prof. Mabel Imbuga, the RUFORUM Board Chair and Vice Chancellor of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology noted that product value chains need to be further developed to benefit from the recently approved continental African free-trade area. The October 2018 Sixth African Higher Education Week Conference will provide interesting approaches to achieving this. Prof. Mbithi, The Vice Chancellor of the University of Nairobi, which is leading the conference organisation together with the other 11 RUFORUM member universities in Kenya and the Government of Kenya informed HE Amina Mohamed and the Ministry that key papers will be presented on how Kenya can advance the implementation of the Big Four Presidential Plan particularly in the areas of agriculture and manufacturing.
The Conference will be held from 22-26 October 2018 at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), Nairobi Kenya.
The RUFORUM delegation was led by Prof. Mabel Imbuga, RUFORUM Board Chair and Prof. Peter Mbithi the Vice Chancellor, University of Nairobi and three RUFORUM staff. The meeting was also attended by the Principal Secretary for State Department for University Education and Research and other staff from the Ministry.
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- Quartz Media
Africa needs another million PhD scientists to develop homegrown solutions (Africa)
It’s been a recurring refrain: Africa still lags woefully behind the rest of the world in generating new scientific knowledge. As figures collated by the World Bank in 2014 show, the continent—home to around 16% of the world’s population—produces less than 1% of the world’s research output. These are painful admissions to make, but there are several projects and initiatives that offer hope amid all the bad news. One is a major funding and agenda setting platform, the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa based in Nairobi, Kenya, which was established by the African Academy of Sciences in partnership with NEPAD. It will award research grants to African universities, advise on financial best practice and develop a science strategy for Africa. It also offers an opportunity for African scientists to speak with one voice when it comes to aligning a research and development agenda for African countries. Another is the US’s National Institute of Health and Wellcome Trust’s commitment to invest nearly $ 200 million into Africa-led genomics projects, biobanks and training of bioinformatics personnel. This investment targets diseases that affect the African continent and gives African scientists the opportunity to set priorities with regard to health interventions and skills development.
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- Business Daily Africa
A strong university champions transparency student feedback (Kenya)
The ability to think critically, examine phenomena, build confidence to adapt, boost economic resiliency, and contribute towards community empowerment all form reasons for prospective students to pursue undergraduate education. However, not all university education is created equal. In continuation of Business Talk’s mini-series on tertiary education in Kenya, last week this column investigated selection criteria that every student and parent should utilise to choose a university for undergraduate studies. Today, we delve into part two of selecting an undergraduate programme. First, how much does the university collect, evaluate, and modify programming based on undergraduate student feedback? The tertiary education sector stands as a famous example of an industry slow to respond to market demands and customer feedback. Unfortunately, since undergraduate students consume service but others, such as parents, often pay for the education, then the low elasticity demand for bad lectures, slow administrative services, or dismal campus environments builds complacency. Prospective students should ask admissions personnel for concrete examples of when undergraduate student feedback forms following a course actually changed something in the classroom. Universities should remove poorly evaluated faculty from lecturing responsibilities.
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- Mail and Guardian
How collaboration can help grow and transform agriculture in Africa (Africa)
It’s been four years since African leaders met in Equatorial Guinea to commit themselves to boosting agricultural growth across the continent. This is an important way to create real change in Africa. During the gathering, all the African Union’s heads of state signed the Malabo Declaration. It offered a blueprint for Africa’s agricultural sectors, to be achieved by 2025. For example, the declaration called for at least 10% of any nation’s public expenditure to be allocated to agriculture and rural development. It also set out plans for increasing countries’ food security by intensifying agriculture in a way that didn’t destroy the environment. There has been some progress in attaining these goals, as a recent status report conducted by the African Union Commission shows. But there’s still a great deal of work to be done. The report shows that in 2015 and 2016 only ten of the 47 signatory states reached or exceeded the target of 10% investment in public expenditure in agriculture and rural development. These are Malawi, Ethiopia, Angola, Egypt, Sudan, Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea. Some other countries had invested as little as 0.6% of public expenditure in these crucial sectors. Only 20 of the 47 signatories are on track to meet the declaration’s goals by 2025.
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By Geoffrey Cheruiyot Ngenoh, MSc. Agri-Enterprise Development student at Egerton University.
July 2017 will always be memorable to me. It was during this time that we had the orientation training for new TAGDev scholars and I developed a business mindset. Speaker after speaker during the training, motivated me to start my entrepreneurship journey. By the end of the training I had so many business ideas in mind, but I decided to start with the first one that had sprang to mind, the business of a motorcycle taxi (boda boda)
I bought a motorcycle in October the same year after doing some research on the business and realizing its potential for quick and consistent returns. For example, in my community in Sotik Sub-County in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya, more and more people now prefer to use boda bodas during their daily journeys rather than walk. I saw this transition in the rural transport system as a great opportunity to tap into the sector revenue. My eagerness to engage in this booming business was twofold; I had to pay back a government student loan that I took to pay for my undergraduate studies, and I also needed to support my family. Incidentally, through the business, I have also been able to give back to the community by providing employment to two people; the manager and the rider.
Aside from the boda boda business I also ventured into farming. Even while at school, I have been supporting my mother and younger sister to grow both subsistence and commercial crops. With two acres of land (both leased and our own), we have grown and harvested good yields of crops like maize, beans, kales, finger millet and sweet potatoes.
At first the yields were low because we were not using certified seed and applied inadequate fertilizer. With my intervention, we now use certified seed only and apply sufficient fertilizer which has enabled us to reap enough for home use and for sale. I am keen on farming because I am trying to restore hope to my community that it can be good business. For almost a decade now, our region has been affected by the maize lethal necrosis (MLN) disease which affected our staple food crop, maize. Hope was restored when alternative food crops such as sweet potatoes, beans, sorghum and Irish potatoes were introduced although their adoption was slow. The success of these new crops has created employment for the community and boosted their lives as they get some wages from working as labourers during planting, weeding and harvest of the crops.
My third business is poultry farming which was inspired by my current field attachment to poultry and rabbit rearing units. Currently, I am constructing a poultry house for 50 birds as a start. I convinced my elder sister of the potential big returns from poultry farming and now she has set up her own coop with over 100 birds. Additionally, I have been advocating for farmers in my community to take up poultry farming during the off-season for crops. Poultry farming is cost effective because it does not require much land. Also there is a rise in demand for eggs whose farm gate price has increased from 3 Kenyan shillings to 10 (about 10 dollar cents) and would thus be a lucrative source of income to many farmers.
So far, the boda boda business is doing well. Through it, I have been able to keep up with my student loan repayments, sustain my family and create employment for the youth. Beyond my immediate family, I have been able to support the children of my siblings by buying for them scholastic materials and contributing to their school fees. Farming has boosted our food security and so far we have parted ways with famine which used to constantly plague us at certain times of the year. Farmers in my community have been motivated to take on farming as a business and those that have done so are already seeing changes in their lives. My own poultry business is still young as I have only two adult birds and eight chicks, but I hope to expand the stock once I complete construction of the poultry house.
I have met challenges in both businesses. With the boda boda, the rider at times rides carelessly, causing damage to some parts which have to be replaced using revenue from the business thus affecting my income. The biggest challenge in farming has been the fall armyworm which attacked our maize crop. In the previous harvest, yields were significantly affected.
I owe my success to the TAGDev trainings that were provided courtesy of the MCF@RUFORUM scholarship, funded by the mastercard foundation. The training has helped me a lot and I can confidently say I am transformed as an agropreneur, fully armed and motivated to be a role model for transformation of communities in Africa. In the next 5-10 years, I aspire for my enterprises to be known globally and serve as a centre of learning for other farmers around the world. Then, will I consider my contribution meaningful.
Geoffrey can be reached via email at: email@example.com
For more information about the TAGDev Programme, visit: http://www.ruforum.org/MCF