MAY 2, 2017, NAIROBI –Around 250 individuals brainstormed how to support Sub-Saharan Africa as it competes globally in applied sciences, engineering and technology fields. They represented 19 African nations as well as China, Malaysia, Korea, Brazil, India, and Germany. Leading international and African technology companies were also present.
The fourth Forum, organized by the Africa-led Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET), took place in Nairobi on April 5 to 7, 2017. It tackled issues in technical and vocational training up to higher education in these fields.
The Forum provided valuable input to the 19 attending African Ministries on customizing their own skill development plans. Global innovations in technical vocational education and training, as well as national skills qualification systems adapted by other countries were also shared.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, in a speech delivered on his behalf by Deputy President William Ruto, appealed to African countries to pay greater attention to technical and vocational training if the continent is to speed up its industrialization and economic growth.
"PASET is the beginning of an answer," President Kenyatta said. "It sharpens our skills in the applied sciences, in engineering and in technology — especially among graduates of our technical and vocational training institutions, and of our universities. Kenya is glad to be one of the beneficiaries of PASET.”
Education ministers from Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ghana, and Nigeria attended the event.
The government of Kenya and other African countries have jointly committed $10 million towards one of PASET’s key initiatives, the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund. The Kenyan government is also participating in PASET’s Regional Centres for Excellence in Skills Development financed by the World Bank. Further, it has joined the Bank-funded Africa Centres of Excellence project, which focuses on postgraduate education and research.
“This is about the very future of technical and scientific skills for Africa and therefore the future of Africa itself in this fast-paced century,” said Keith Hansen, the World Bank Group’s Vice President for Human Development, as he thanked the Kenyan government for co- hosting the Fourth Regional Forum by the Africa-led Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET). Hansen added that PASET reflected two key priorities for the World Bank Group: its commitment to Africa and a commitment to investing in people.
“It's great to see partners and governments converge around PASET, because there is no smarter shortcut to a bright future than education when it is high quality and relevant,” Hansen said.
It was also an opportunity for African institutions and tech companies to display their homegrown innovations and network with global peers. The exhibitors showcasing their work at the forum included the Moringa School, University of Nairobi, Devotra BV, Huawei Southern Africa, Centurion Systems, Andela, and Gearbox. Their exhibits included a wide variety of mechanical and electrical machines, such as plasma and laser cutters, and a 3D printer.
One of the projects was a phototherapy unit to treat newborn Jaundice with safe UV light, created by University of Nairobi students and faculty to bridge the gap in supply of medical devices in local hospitals.
"Being in a place like this is really important for guys like us as we get to share ideas on issues that affect Africa as a continent, not just this country. Through such forums, we have the opportunity to find solutions from different people, and see if their solutions can fit our needs and solve problems that many others have faced before," Derrick Mugasia, who works at University of Nairobi’s FabLab, said.
International firms at the forum included Microsoft, Phillips, Intel, and State Grid China, the world's largest power company among others. These firms, along with African companies shared their own experiences with innovations in teaching of the sciences and engineering with the participants, making greater use of technology, project-based learning and various interactive approaches in teaching.
“This is a good time to call upon the private sector to expand support to skills-building in Africa, with both resources and technology,” said World Bank Education Practice Manager Sajitha Bashir, who is also a board member of PASET. “I think it signals a readiness to work together to achieve the common goal of human capital development in Africa. Let us look for synergies and expand this interaction.”
China, India, Brazil and South Korea have been closely involved with PASET since its 2013 launch by sharing knowledge and technical assistance, such as by organizing exchange visits for their African counterparts.
For more details or to see photos from the event, contact Saori Imaizumi.
Select presentations from the forum will be posted here soon.