University of Nairobi.






The 20th Engineers International Conference on Innovative Engineering Solutions for Industrialization of Counties held at the Tom Mboya Labour College, Kisumu, Kenya. 8th – 10th May 2013

The institution of Engineers of Kenya.








University of Nairobi.

1.   Introduction

In order to industrialize Kenya, and indeed the counties which have recently been created, there is need to transform the country’s economy from being heavily dependent on agriculture to a status where manufacturing would be a major contributor towards the Gross Domestic Product.

The new constitution in our country has brought with it a devolved government system which has given counties responsibilities which were originally shouldered by the Central Government. As engineers therefore we should orient our focus towards the new requirements in the way we train our engineers in order to equip them with capabilities of addressing the new challenges in the context of the need for industrialization of the counties as envisaged in the Kenya Vision 2030. In particular we, as engineers must be prepared to address the issue of infrastructure development for the many counties in order to facilitate the achievement of the Vision 2030 for the counties and indeed for the nation at large. We are for example expected to address the issue of public utilities (which include electric power, telecommunications, water supply and sanitation, sewerage and waste disposal); public works (which includes irrigation systems, schools, housing and hospitals); transport services (which include roads, railways, ports, waterways, airports and pipelines) and research and development facilities.

We know that the three critical elements which contributed to the rapid economic growth of the South East Asian countries (i.e. Asian Tigers) included;

·         Provision of basic infrastructure, including roads, schools, water, sanitation, irrigation, health care, energy and telecommunications.

·         Development of small and medium-size enterprises that supply goods and services to the agriculture and natural resources sectors.

·         Government support and funding to establish and nurture academies of engineering and technological sciences, professional engineering and technological associations, and industrial and trade associations. It is to be noted that these human resource and supporting institutional frameworks spur sector wide innovations in development processes.

Again we know that a nation’s ability to solve problems and initiate and sustain economic growth is heavily dependent on the nation’s capabilities in science, technology and innovation. We also acknowledge that scientific and technical capabilities determine the ability to provide such services like clean water, good health care, adequate infrastructure and safe food.

As engineers we know that we need to develop a science, technology and innovation policy which is underpinned by well-designed measures for addressing such issues as learning, research and development and the diffusion, transfer and commercialization of technology.

It is important to recognize that today’s global trends are towards knowledge based economies whereby research institutions must collaborate with industries and work in partnership. There is indeed need for public-private partnerships and collaboration between the government, the universities and research institutions and the industries including the many types of enterprises to achieve higher rate of economic growth. In the area of industrial development we must acknowledge that currently our country heavily relies on imported products some of which could be produced locally. This underpins the need to encourage engineers particularly those working in research oriented institutions/sections, to carry out research leading to development of products that can be sellable locally and internationally. In doing so engineers are required to work closely with the industry in order to influence the adoption of technology that adds value to the locally produced raw materials. This is indeed what we understand by industrialization, which in our case implies that we, as a country, should invest in relevant technology which can be utilized to process the natural resources including raw materials to convert such resources and raw materials into sellable products both locally and internally and competitively.

As engineers we are expected to address the challenges of raising the standard of living of the Kenyan people and in doing so we need to consider the indicators which reflect the basic necessities of life as indicated earlier, and thereby recognize the need to empower Kenyans so that they can compete in the knowledge economy by equipping them with capacity to manage the latest technology including the ICT. Given the important role ICT is playing in every day life of Kenyans, it is imperative that special attention be given to ICT to ensure that its education and training is comprehensively structured. In this respect the universities must rise to the occasion and provide the necessary leadership.

This paper addresses briefly the roles of the various actors in the exercise of addressing the issues of industrialization of the counties in the realization of the Kenya Vision 2030 whose three pillars include the economic pillar, the social pillar and the political pillar.

The economic pillar aims at improving the prosperity of Kenyans through an economic transformation programme covering all the regions of Kenya and aiming at achieving an average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 10% per annum.

The social pillar seeks to create and build a just and cohesive society with social equity in a clean and secure environment. The political pillar aims at realizing a democratic political system that nurtures issue-based politics, respects the rule of law, and protects all the rights and freedoms of every individual in the Kenyan society.

2.   Role of Universities

For us, as a country, to achieve the desired economic status as envisioned in the Vision 2030, we need to invest both in the development of strategic industries and in human resources, that is to say that Kenyans must be trained to empower them to manage the type of technology that is relevant to the knowledge economy. Since engineers are the key actors in infrastructure development, it will be necessary to ensure that they are trained comprehensively, i.e. their training must incorporate basic scientific and technological knowledge and accompanying structured practical training in industry.

With the above in mind, universities must rise to the occasion by offering well structured academic courses relevant to the demand of the industry now and into the future for those undergoing degree programmes. Universities must also encourage research and development and innovation activities for lecturers in partnership with their counterparts in industries. Again universities should encourage the lecturers to undertake research and consultancy work with industries in their areas of specialization.

Additionally universities should get actively involved in organizing continuing education in form of seminars, short courses, holiday courses, evening classes etc in order to empower practicing engineers including graduate engineers with relevant knowledge especially new techniques of addressing emerging engineering problems.

Universities, as the main actors in research, should be encouraged to invest heavily in research areas which are relevant to the economic growth of the nation. In this respect, it is known that those countries that have invested heavily in research have reaped the benefits in terms of industrialization and accompanying socio-economic growth. Universities are indeed expected to carry out research aimed at developing suitable models and pilot projects which can be adopted by industries for full-scale development. To buttress the system of industrial transformation, we must engage in research and development activities to develop relevant knowledge for utilization by our industries. Again universities are expected to develop science and technological parks to incubate projects and release the same to the industries for full-scale development.

Additionally, universities are mandated to come up with extension services to the community as a social responsibility with the aim of participating in the development of the necessary industrial base nationally and at county levels.

3.   Role of Industries

For Kenya, and indeed our counties, to accelerate economic growth through industrialization, there is urgent need to create new and efficient industries. There is also need to rehabilitate existing industries to enable them adopt efficient technologies. This is so because our industries must be made to produce high quality manufactured goods which are capable of competing successfully with products from other countries not only in Kenya but also in the global market.

When one looks at the industries in Kenya, it is observed that little collaboration takes place between the industries on the one hand and the universities and research institutions on the other hand in the country. Yet we know that until the linkages between universities and industries are structured and strengthened, the rate of growth in the manufacturing sector will continue to be elusive and thereby adversely affect our journey towards Vision 2030. It is therefore important for us engineers to address this factor with a view to introducing structured systems that protect the interests of both the universities and the industries, but with an over-arching goal of harnessing the technological knowledge generated in universities for the purpose of enhancing efficiency in production processes in industry. The important point to note is that with efficiency in production processes, industries achieve higher outputs with accompanying higher profits and consequent higher socio-economic growth through job creation for Kenyans. The industrialists and entrepreneurs in our country should be encouraged, through incentives by the government, to collaborate with universities and research institutions so that the knowledge developed and available from such institutions, can be transferred to industries.

It is desirable that our engineers undertake to persuade industries to have significant input in the development of curricula in universities and polytechnics. In addition industries should be encouraged to offer opportunities to university staff and students to familiarize themselves with the world of work in industries.    

4.   Role of Government


The role of government in the industrialization of counties for vision 2030 is critical.  We must acknowledge that development of industries at county level is important as that is what will inspire economic growth.  In this respect the Government would be of great service to the industries (and hence industrialization of counties) if it catalyzes university-industry linkages.  The Government needs to take an active role in facilitating the collaboration between universities and the industries including formulating such policies and legislation as would enhance the collaboration.  In the area of entrepreneurship the Government is expected to encourage the development of local contractors who will participate in the implementation of development projects thereby creating jobs for Kenyans in the country as envisioned the Kenya Vision 2030.  We know that entrepreneurship is generally associated with development of businesses, trade, industry and production of goods and services at competitive prices in the global market.  And the major motivating factor for the entrepreneur is the desire to succeed in creating wealth.

The Government should therefore encourage universities to carry out detailed studies to establish threshold levels for various types of small scale and medium size businesses and industries in counties so as to determine the optimal levels of investment which will result in significant job creation for Kenyans.

5.   Role of the Institution of Engineers of Kenya

The engineer is known more because of his role in the development of infrastructure.  The IEK should encourage the engineers to play their rightful role in the infrastructure development with the aim of enhancing the image of the profession by demanding that engineers must abide by the Code of Ethics in their professional duties.

Engineers are key actors in the achievement of the Kenya Vision 2030 because they plan, design, construct, maintain and operate infrastructure for the benefit of the society.  The IEK must demand that engineers should deliver, in the various areas of development and operations of infrastructure, to the expected levels of professional performance.  The IEK should undertake to influence policy development in the building industry in order to make it more engineer friendly both at the engineer training level and in engineering practice.

6.   The Way Forward

For Kenya to rise to the next orbit of development level, comparable to the middle-income countries in the world, it is important to give research and development and innovation special attention.  We should be futuristic by investing in high level technology so as to make our industries more efficient where they can produce products sellable in the international market competitively.  We need to put more effort in ensuring that research findings which are relevant to our economy are used to produce useful products by users like farmers, entrepreneurs etc.  In this respect use of competent extension workers should be addressed so that the required impact of research findings is realized. 

As an example we need to increase scientific and technological input in the Jua Kali sector so as to achieve higher efficiency in the production processes and enable the entrepreneurs to produce products which can compete not only in a given county but locally and in the international market.  Currently there is tendency for Jua Kali and small scale enterprises to continue applying outdated technology with the consequence that their products are non-standard and lack uniformity.

There is need to adopt policies which inspire university staff to participate in university-industry linkages in the areas of research and development and innovation as well as consultancies.  There is need to address the need to harness and exploit our national resources (such as rivers, mountains, forests, wildlife, minerals e.t.c) including human resource and determine how we can utilize the same in our effort to achieve the Kenya Vision 2030.


1.    Essentials and Promotion of Linkages between Research and Development and Entrepreneur by F. J. Gichaga.  National Workshop on Science and Technology Capacity in the Framework of Millennium Development Goals.  A commemoration of the African Scientific Revival Day, Nairobi, December 2005.

2.    Training Professionals for infrastructure Development:  The Troika of Government, Industry and Academia by F. J. Gichaga.  The Transformative and Effective Infrastructure Conference, Nairobi.  November 2010

3.    Kenya Vision 2030.  Ministry of State for Planning, National Development & Vision 2030.

4.    The Constitution of Kenya 2010.  Kenya Law Reports.   National Council for Law Reporting.

5.    Educating a National Labour Force for Economic Recovery through Industrial Transformation by F. J. Gichaga, 35th Annual Tom Mboya lecture, Nairobi, 30th November, 2005.





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