Germany, Kenya to launch a regional science university

Kenya and Germany are to establish an East African-German University of Sciences. The new institution will respond to education and training requirements across the region. The scheme was announced at the German-African Business Summit in Nairobi earlier this month.

Jutta Frasch, Germany’s ambassador to Kenya, and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary of Education Fred Matiang’i, signed a joint declaration of intent during the German-African Business Summit held in Nairobi from 8-10 February, specifying that the new institution would be designed along the lines of German universities of applied sciences, the former fachhochschulen.

Programmes are to focus on current educational, economic and development requirements addressed by higher education in East Africa, with a special emphasis on cooperation between the university and business.

The new institution is to act as a model for the entire region and will also contribute to a reorientation of higher education systems in East Africa.

German universities of applied sciences are to be recruited via a competitive exercise to assume responsibility for the project on the German side, possibly via a consortium. German funding will be provided by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, via the German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD.

Collaboration flourishing

“Academic exchange between Kenya and Germany has been flourishing for many years,” said DAAD President Margret Wintermantel. “I look forward to the impetus this new project will give to further intensifying our cooperation with Kenya and the East African region.”

She stressed the importance of Kenya’s economic boom and the significance of start-up enterprises in this context. “It is very important for the DAAD to make a substantial contribution to the employability of young graduates with the setting up of this innovative and application-oriented higher education model,” Wintermantel noted.

The DAAD maintains that demand-oriented, innovative applied science programmes are of particular importance to target countries and can make a crucial contribution to optimally preparing graduates for labour markets and to increasing employment rates.

Three factors come together in the DAAD’s internationalisation approach: high-level academic training, focusing on practical aspects and international know-how. In addition, the DAAD argues that transnational programmes can set important impulses for necessary changes in regional higher education concepts. 

‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa

At the German-African Business Summit, organised by the Sub-Saharan Africa Initiative of German Business, German Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller announced a new ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa, focusing on business investment and vocational education.

“What we need is an entirely new dimension of development cooperation based not on more public finance but on more investment. Africa has a considerable wealth of natural resources that can provide jobs as long as processing and, hence, value added, remains in the countries themselves,” Müller explained.

“German development cooperation can offer support in the form of advice and technical know-how. Such cooperation releases entirely new potentials.”

As part of this concept, the German government is to assist German and Kenyan firms in providing vocational education for up to 5,000 young people in Kenya. Nearly a million youths enter the Kenyan labour market each year.

Germany also sees job creation, education and improved living standards as the only way to permanently stem the exodus of people from the continent.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “we can do it” response to mass immigration in 2015 has met with increasing opposition, and aliens’ deportation procedures for asylum seekers whose applications have been turned down are being speeded up.

Michael Gardner Email: