Three Kenyan varsities get Sh1.8bn World Bank funding

Three Kenyan universities are set to benefit from a Sh1.8 billion World Bank grant for infrastructure development and training of post-graduate students.

Egerton, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and Moi universities will each receive Sh600 million to boost their training capacity in value addition and agribusiness, sustainable use of insects as food and animal feed and textile development respectively.

The training is partly intended to curb the emigration of graduates to Western countries where they get better pay for their skills, a phenomenon commonly referred to as brain drain.

World Bank co-ordinating director for regional integration Moustapha Ndiaye said on Monday the three Kenyan universities were part of 24 successful applicants from eastern and southern Africa that would benefit from the Sh14.8 billion grant aimed at churning out 3,500 post graduate students in the next five years.

He said the grant would help to meet the growing demand for skills applicable in industries, agriculture, health, education and applied statistics.

The World Bank official spoke when he signed the deal with the Inter-University Commission for Eastern Africa (IUCEA) executive secretary Alexandre Lyambabaje in Nairobi where they agreed to fast-track its implementation to ease the effect of braindrain mainly driven by better perks offered by European and American universities.

“The centres of excellence to be established in host countries will offer research, learning and training opportunities for local students whereby 30 per cent will go into infrastructure development while the rest will be reserved forward of scholarships to Masters and PhD students,” he said.

The World Bank official added that 1,000 scholarships would be reserved for women students.

Mr Ndiaye said the project would also spur exchange of goods and services in eastern and southern Africa, enhancing integration where the select centre of excellence would admit students from across the region.

“The host countries will benefit from collaborative research and training helping bridge the skills gap thereby making students relevant for the job market,” he said.

The IUCEA will also form an oversight team comprising academia, public sector and private sector players to help commercialise gains made by the students through research and development of scalable business ventures.

Prof Lyambabaje said the move gives locals an opportunity to create their own sustainable and applicable solutions.

Other beneficiaries of the World Bank funding include Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.