UK High Commissioner to Kenya, Nic Hailey and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Ministry of Education Science and Technology, Dr Fred Matiang’i, have today (19 July 2016) signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) pledging to strengthen their collaborative partnership in research and innovation through the launch of the Newton-Utafiti Fund.
The MOU was signed at the Ministry of Higher Education in Nairobi and sees a step-change in the bilateral science relationship and will provide a platform to develop new knowledge partnerships in science, technology and innovation which will be facilitated through the Newton-Utafiti Fund. “Utafiti” means ‘research’ in Swahili.
The fund will enable UK and Kenya scientists to work together to achieve greater outcomes for both countries and for people worldwide by increasing capability for individuals and institutions and further developing joint research and innovation programmes among academics, business, and government institutions.
Today’s signing makes Kenya the 16th country to join the Newton Fund.
Some of the key areas for collaboration under the Newton-Utafiti Fund include:
- Food security: including animals and plants, underutilised crops, value chain, post-harvest, production technologies, water, land management, agricultural and bio-technology
- Sustainable and renewable energy
- Health: including health systems research, mental health, non-communicable diseases, and re-emerging diseases
- Environment and climate change: including waste management, water, sustainable urban planning and development, sustainable construction, ecosystem services, adaptation and mitigation to climate change, carbon footprint analysis, climate services, and sustainable tourism
- Economic transition skills and jobs through manufacturing for SMEs: production costs, value-addition and agro-processing
- Cross cutting issues including capacity building, big data, innovation and entrepreneurship
Collaborative activities under this Memorandum of Understanding will begin with two programmes, with calls launched today by the British Council, one of the Newton Fund’s 15 UK Delivery Partners. This is with the aim of boosting collaboration with other partners in future years.
Tweeting about the MOU signing this morning, the UK High Commissioner said: “There are more UK-funded research collaborations in Kenya than anywhere else in Africa – this’ll strengthen further. Together UK and Kenyan scientists have developed drought-resistant maize now helping 2 million farmers across Africa. With 1% of world population, the UK produces 16% of the world’s most cited science papers. Kenya has put research at heart of Vision2030.”
The Researcher Links programme provides grants to allow researchers to visit the partner country to learn and share knowledge with opportunities for grants to fund thematic workshops. These will be led by senior researchers with active participation of early career researchers to focus on building links for future collaboration, building research capacity and enhancing the researchers’ career opportunities.
“We appreciate this development of a UK-Kenya research collaboration. The joint research programmes under the Newton Utafiti Fund should encourage direct institutional links and collaborations between our respective higher education and research institutions. The research should produce quality outputs that in the end will inform policy and influence positive outcomes for the good of society.”
– Dr Matiang’i, Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Education
As well as Kenya-UK links, this call will also invite trilateral bids with researchers from South Africa.
— UK in Kenya (@UKinKenya) July 19, 2016
The Institutional Links programme establishes links between research institutions in partner countries and opens up opportunities for partnerships between academic groups and with the private and third sectors.