Kenyan experts root for academia-industry linkage to promote growth
19 August 2016, 16:01
Nairobi (Xinhua) -- Strategic collaboration between African universities and industry is an imperative in order to spur economic growth through innovations and entrepreneurship, experts said on Thursday.
Beatrice Muganda, Director of Higher Education at the Nairobi-based think tank, Partnership for African Social and Governance Research, said in a commentary published by a local daily that Africa's economic and social renewal hinges on robust industry and academia linkages.
"Universities would be better able to make meaningful contribution to society if they worked with the private sector to develop innovations that would catalyze economic growth," Muganda said.
Demand for higher education across Sub-Saharan Africa has risen tremendously this decade thanks to a stable macro-economic and political environment.
Muganda noted that a critical mass of highly skilled young Africans is behind the continent's latest wave of socio-economic transformation.
She emphasized that harnessing the entrepreneur and innovative spirit of educated youth will solve Africa's endemic challenges like poverty, unemployment, diseases and crime.
"A more imaginative engagement between institutions of higher learning and industry would spur growth of informal businesses that currently employ 80 percent of the African workforce," said Muganda.
African governments should create a conducive policy and regulatory environment to promote industry-academia linkages.
Muganda said that state funding is crucial to promote research and innovation agenda at the universities to help solve pressing challenges like food insecurity, disease and unemployment.
She noted that adequate research budget in the universities will promote growth of light manufacturing in Africa.
"With enough support for engineering departments, African states can for example produce motorcycles and their spare parts locally rather than rely on expensive imports," Muganda said.
Muganda said that industry-academia linkage will help bridge skills gap that remains a huge challenge in Africa.
Her remarks were echoed by Kevit Desai, the chairman of Private Sector-Academia Link in Kenya, who stressed that a partnership between universities and businesses has potential to convert Africa into an industrial powerhouse.