Kenya hosts Fourth PASET Forum to build Africa’s scientific and technical skills gap

Deputy President William Ruto being welcomed on arrival at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi to officially open the 4th Partnership and Innovation for Skills Development in Africa (PASET FORUM). Photo by Kibet Cheptumo/KNA

The fourth Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) Forum was officially commemorated in Nairobi to build capacity for scientific and technical skills in Africa.

An initiative of the World Bank together with 14 countries, nine from Africa, PASET was set up to promote sustainable development and prosperity of participating nations.

“We have not yet achieved the prosperity that our people deserve — not in Kenya, and not in Africa. First, we simply don’t have enough skilled Kenyans, or Africans, to move up the value chain; second, even those of us who are skilled often find that their skills don’t match the opportunities on offer,” said the Deputy President Mr. William Ruto on behalf of the President who was not able to attend the Forum at Safari Park Hotel.

A review from the Kenyan universities on academic programmes shows that there are many more opportunities for students to study the arts, humanities and the social sciences than there are opportunities to study the applied sciences, engineering and technology.

The review further stated that science and technical programmes tend to be more expensive than those in the arts and humanities, which makes it harder for universities, governments, and parents to invest in the facilities, the infrastructure, the equipment and the human capital they need to teach science and technology courses.

“We have developed a competency-based education and training approach; improved infrastructure and training equipment in TVET Institutions; and integrated ICT and Technology in technical and vocational education and training,” added Mr. Ruto.

The PASET Forum also looked at its partnerships with the private sector and how those collaborations are focusing around their experience on return on investment, R&D and future perspective of their own industry in Africa.

“Currently the Government of Kenya is investing USD $300 million on R&D at the IBM Research Labs. This money will help ICT researchers in Kenya and also introduce them globally; what other researchers are doing in R&D globally. The money will also cater for research priorities in the country every two years, to name but two of its uses,” said Dr. Katherine Getao, ICT Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communications.

“Philips inaugurated the first Community hub in Kiambu County in 2014 with a focus was on primary care and integrating the technology to a local solution to cater for the people from the area. Looking at Githurai 45, there was unreliable grid, so unreliable energy-electricity but in Dandu in the south west of Mandera there is no access to electricity at all hence there are no sufficient care givers. In collaboration with Mandera County, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Philips, a facility- (CLC) Community Life Center will be ready by the end of this quarter,” said Dr.Eddine Sarroukh, Head of Research, Philips East Africa.

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