Researchers from top Universities in African are discussing ways in which Universities across the continent can leverage on research to achieve the fourth industrial revolution. The conference was held from November 17-20, 2019 at the University of Nairobi.
Speaking during the opening ceremony, Prof. Isaac Mbeche, the Vice Chancellor, University of Nairobi observed that Africa produces one percent of the global knowledge and hence African researchers must pull up their socks despite the budgetary constraints from African governments. “No one university is strong enough to achieve impact alone, hence the need to collaborate together on research endeavours. African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) seeks to leverage on partnerships and networks, to achieve a greater research impact,” he said. Prof. Mbeche noted that there have been positive impact since ARUA was founded in 2015. The University of Nairobi have benefited considerably from research capacity building initiatives. “We have one center of excellence. Publication and visibility have improved significantly”, he said.
ARUA, provides a good environment for researchers to share their research experience and outcomes to help maximize the usefulness of research. The University of Nairobi gave its commitment to continue supporting ARUA to further the research agenda in the continent.
Prof. Ashiwel Undie from City University of New York, outlined the need to strengthen Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in Universities across the African continent. He observed that STEM education and research are linked. “A strong research program is key to a strong STEM education program” he said.
Prof. Karen Wolff, from the University of Stellenbosch, urged students to embrace mathematics, physics, engineering and innovation as those who pursue the disciplines will be key in the fourth industrial revolution. Students who pursue such disciplines are better prepared to solve complex problems. “Mathematics is the language of the world. You will find mathematics virtually in everyday life. ,” she said. She urged academicians to mentor more students to pursue STEM courses.
It emerged from the conference proceedings that students need to embrace life-long learning, have ICT in all academic programs to be able to adapt quickly to the ever changing job market and to be able to be strategically positioned for the fourth industrial revolution. University management on the other hand were encouraged to focus on professional development of its staff members. The regulator, such as Commission of University Education, were also encouraged to do regular review of the academic programs.