Kenyan universities are in the race against their Eastern and Southern Africa peers to be centres of excellence for specific Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhDs) that will benefit from World Bank’s Sh18.5 billion research fund.
The 22 centres will be established in the universities and focus on a PhD field health, agriculture, ICT, engineering, hydrocarbons and mining to boost the region’s growth through research and development.
Universities have often cited inadequate cash as a hindrance to their ability to conduct research, critical for generation of new knowledge and innovation. Each centre is set to receive Sh841 million ($8 million) in April and a university can host more than one research hub.
“The centres will be established within the existing universities which will be vetted in terms of quality, infrastructure and linkages with the private sector,” said Mayunga Nkunya, the executive secretary of Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) the coordinating partner.
The IUCEA is an institution of the East African Community (EAC) in charge of coordination of higher education in the bloc alongside research and development.
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Dozens of institutions from 10 countries including Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda in eastern Africa are in the race for the sectoral hubs.
Burundi was disqualified because none of its universities offers PhD studies. Southern African nations in the race are Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Prof Nkunya told a press briefing on Monday in Nairobi that two-thirds of the World Bank’s funds per hub or Sh560 million will be grants while the rest (Sh281 million) will be treated as concessionary loans.
The region is set to join Central and West African nations whose several universities are already benefiting from the World Bank’s programme.