Several engineering-related fields in Kenya have always been on steady growth in becoming a central employment-creating front for technical university graduates. However, in most cases, when projects that require such skills are launched in the country, a few Kenyans find their way into the jobs. In fact, the projects are handled by international contractors who jet into their country with their own staff. These activities have become a common practice in other parts of the continent too, but according to the discussion held by industry experts during the launch of KAIST in Kenya a week ago, this has to change based on measures that are being put in place by the government.
As discussed a couple of days ago, the government of South Korea agreed to offer a helping hand in the second version of the technical training university in Kenya. The institution, which will be funded by the Koreans ( at a cost of KES 10 billion), should go live by 2021 with the first batch of 330 students. The University, which will be constructed in Konza Technopolis should help alleviate the country’s technical constraints in engineering skills.
“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 during a KAIST session at the University of Nairobi.
It has also been illustrated that Kenya’s low engineering capacity continues to be an obstacle to the development of national infrastructure that has affected the economic growth of the state. The impact of the setback is evident; for instance, there are very few local patents that have been filed by locals, whereas the likes of Korea’s KAIST top the world in that regard.
“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,” added Jerome Ochieng’, CS for the ICT Ministry.
The CEO of the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) Engineer John Tanui agreed that Kenya ranks poorly in terms of commercializing innovative ideas for the greater good.
“There is a gap in the demand for and supply of highly 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 a 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,” said Engineer Tanui.
KAIST, which will offer mechanical, electrical and ICT engineering, as well as chemical, civil and agricultural engineering programs will also be supported by the Ministry of Education.