Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility SPEECH BY VICE CHANCELLOR PROFESSOR ISAAC O. KIBWAGE DURING THE 15TH BIENNIAL INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE






19th March, 2024

Distinguished guests, esteemed colleagues, valued participants, and our esteemed Chief Guest, Dr Beatrice Inyangala, the Principal Secretary at the State Department of Higher Education & Research,

I extend to you a warm welcome to the Egerton University 15th Biennial International Conference, 2024.

 As we gather under the theme "Research for Innovative Solutions in the 21st Century," let us take note of the pressing challenges facing the continent and the role of universities and research institutions in creatively and innovatively addressing them.

 Africa, despite its immense potential, continues to grapple with numerous obstacles hindering the advancement of research and innovation. Limited resources, inadequate infrastructure, and a scarcity of funding often pose significant barriers to progress. Climate Change is the new challenge that is wiping out any gains achieved in research, innovation and development, hence our attention during this conference should be dedicated to finding solutions to mitigate against negative effects of climate change in all sectors of the economy.

At Egerton University, we are committed to Transforming Lives through Quality Education. Our focus on priority areas such as agriculture has yielded tangible results, with groundbreaking research contributing to enhanced food and nutrition security as well as sustainable agricultural practices that are currently being utilized by farming communities in almost all counties in Kenya to solve food and nutritional security, environmental degradation, Dairy and livestock agro-pastoral ecosystems, food safety challenges, extension service delivery models and human and animal health and sustainable land management solutions just to name a few.

However, I acknowledge the fact that this is not enough to solve the challenges we are facing today in Kenya and the world. As global researchers and innovators we need to redouble our efforts in interdisciplinary research that contributes directly to socio-economic economic development including the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Our focus in Africa should be to refocus our research priorities to contribute to the Africa 2030 Agenda, where the continent's strategic framework aims to deliver inclusive and sustainable development goals for collective prosperity in food security, health and overall well-being of Africa society.

Nationally, our priorities should be geared towards contributing to overall socioeconomic development under the Bottom Up Economic Tranformation Agenda (BETA).

Since there are more papers and contributions in Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources in the conference, I encourage the organizers and researchers to focus on other critical areas including Engineering, Commerce, Health, the Arts and Social Sciences among others. This is not only important for our bottom line but will spur research and innovations in ways that will benefit our communities as a whole. We therefore need to broaden our scope and embrace multi-disciplinary approaches to solving our current problems as well as anticipating future ones.

One of the ways in which Egerton University is driving innovation is through Centres of Excellence like the Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture and Agribusiness Management (CESAAM),  Agro-Science and Technology Parks and Research Innovation Centres. These units are hubs for research commercialization, facilitating the transition of innovative ideas into commercially viable products and services.

Over the years we have successfully developed and commercialized several products including the popular Egerton Yogurt, high-yielding seeds for beans, sorghum, finger millets, groundnuts, potatoes and pigeon peas among others. These products are current being produced by farming and seed companies in several counties in Kenya, and they have high demand by consumers, due to high yield and consumer and market preferences like good bread baking qualities, low gas, drought tolerance, high nutrition content among others.

The Faculty of Engineering has also made tremendous achievements in research and innovations. For example, students and faculty in Biosystems Engineering have developed technologies for recycling water hyacinth into useable products like polytubes for tree seedlings. They have also designed farm equipment and machinery that support small-scale mechanization for smallholder farmers.

In entrepreneurship innovations, our students have innovated and developed value-added several products from natural products like gum Arabic, bio-products and bio-fertilizers. Students have also established sustainable Agri-Enterprises that produce value-added dairy and food products through Agri-enterprise projects, Agri-engage, TAGDEV, COELIB and Food and Dairy Sciences Labs. This has created self-employment among the students.  

By forging partnerships with industry stakeholders, we aim to accelerate the uptake of our innovations, ultimately driving economic growth and development.  On the same note, I would like to take this opportunity to appreciate the Kenya National Innovation Agency (KeNIA) for its collaborative efforts. Their partnership has been instrumental in propelling our initiatives forward, especially through Research to Commercialization (R2C) initiatives, Commercialisation and Entrepreneurial Institutional Leadership training during the annual Summits, Institutional Commercialisation Support and development of Commercialization and Enterpreneurship Master Plan.  

With the support of KeNIA, Egerton University is currently in the process of developing an innovation framework. This framework aims to provide a structured approach to nurturing and scaling innovations emanating from our researchers. It is designed to streamline the process from ideation to implementation, ensuring that our innovative solutions reach a wider audience and contribute meaningfully to societal development.

In today's rapidly evolving landscape, characterized by volatility and uncertainty, the importance of resilience and adaptability cannot be overstated. As researchers and scholars, it is incumbent upon us to rise to the occasion, leveraging our expertise to develop creative solutions that address the complexities of the modern era.

The globalization of access to information presents unprecedented opportunities for collaboration and knowledge exchange on a global scale. By harnessing these resources, we can amplify the impact of our research, driving innovation and progress in our respective fields.

Over the course of this conference, we will explore six dynamic sub-themes spanning crucial areas such as education, literature, sustainable agriculture, STEM advancements, healthcare, and environmental resilience. Through engaging discussions and thought-provoking presentations, we hope to inspire innovative solutions that address pressing national challenges and contribute to the well-being of our society.

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all participants for their contributions to this conference, whether in person or virtually. Your insights and expertise are invaluable, and I am confident that our collective efforts will yield tangible results that benefit not only Kenya but the entire African continent.

As we embark on this transformative journey, I also want to express our appreciation to the partners of this event, including the National Research Fund Kenya (NRF), Minisstry of Education, Egerton University Alumni Association, TAGDev, REFOOTURE and COELIB for the support and sponsorship.

Your support is integral to the success of this conference, and we look forward to strengthening these partnerships for the greater advancement of research and innovation in Kenya.

In closing, I welcome you once again to the 15th Biennial International Conference at Egerton University. Visit the University faculties, and interesting sites like Botanical Garden, The Lord Egerton Castle, Lake Nakuru National park among others. Let us seize this opportunity to collaborate, innovate, and drive positive change for generations to come.

Thank you.

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