Kenya is among four African countries that have committed some Sh800 million to setting up a scholarship fund for doctoral training in science, engineering and technology.
The others are Rwanda, Ethiopia and Senegal.
The countries are working under the auspices of Partnership for Skills in Applied Science, Engineering and Technology and seek to train some 10,000 doctoral students in the next 10 years. The funds will be administered by the Association of African Universities, which is headquartered in Accra, Ghana.
The secretary-general of AAU, Prof Etienne Ehile, said the programme would address the acute shortage of lecturers in science and technology across universities on the continent.
“As an association, we are excited to witness African governments coming together to promote high level training of our people ... This is the only way to go if Africa is to make an impact in science, technology and innovation,” said Prof Ehile.
The secretary-general was addressing the AAU’s 14th conference that started on Monday in Accra and is being attended by vice-chancellors, rectors, researchers and experts in higher education. It was officially opened by Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo. The conference also marks the 50th anniversary of AAU.
The conference addressed declining funding for universities that had compromised quality of learning and teaching and research. It also decried lack of qualified and experienced lecturers as universities have not been able to develop new talent. Most professors were ageing but there were few people to replace them.
Former Higher Education Permanent Secretary Crispus Kiamba outlined some of the measures Kenya had taken to promote science and technology, including developing a policy framework and enacting a law that commits the government to allocating at least two per cent of the GDP to science, research and innovation.
The head of the education division at the African Union Commission, Dr Beatrice Njenga, outlined programmes the AU was implementing to promote higher education on the continent, including setting up the Pan-African University. She said they were working with national governments to establish systems for assessing and rating quality of universities.