Kenya Diaspora Conference: Universities Vital for Economic Development

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Editor’s note:  the Mshale team is reporting live from the
conference site of the 2nd Kenya Diaspora International Conference and Investment Forum. Periodic
postings are appearing on the special conference section of Mshale under
Conventions. Click on the Kenya Diaspora ’09 tab. And also on Twitter.

ATLANTA
– Universities can be a mechanism for tapping and aligning the Kenyan Diaspora
with Kenya’s economic goals and innovation, a MIT scholar, Mr. Martin Mbaya has
said. He was speaking at the ongoing Kenya Diaspora International Conference
and Investment forum going on here this weekend.

“Universities
are institutional players in economic development,” Mr. Mbaya said. He
said universities are centers of excellence that are active participants in
many commercial ventures including research. Strathmore University in Nairobi
is one such institution that is actively involved in activities that are
directly impacting the economy by collaborating with the private sector. Over the last decade, Strathmore has built a world class institution through
global collaboration with MIT and Harvard and a concerted strategic Diaspora outreach.

The MIT
Africa Information Technology Initiative that brought together JKUAT, MIT and
Strathmore brought together top talent from Harvard and MIT that started a cell
phone programming program in Kenya. “Such activities have a net result on
the Kenyan economy,” he said. This past summer students from Strathmore
University, University of Nairobi and Jomo Kenyatta University of Technology
underwent an intensive six week course on how to develop mobile technologies.

The
Africa Information Technology Initiative (AITI) is an example of an initiative
by a Diaspora Kenyan that has proven beneficial for the country. The initiative
was first envisioned by Paul Njoroge in 1998 while a student at MIT. He teamed
up with fellow students Martin Mbaya and Solomon Assefa to plan and launch.

Mr.
Mbaya urged policy makers and the Diaspora to look at universities anew as partners in enterpreneurship and innovation going beyond the traditional view of being centers of providing knowledge and training.

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conference updates on Twitter.

Author

  • Born and raised in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, Tom is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Mshale which has been reporting on the news and culture of African immigrants in the United States since 1995. He has a BA in Business from Metro State University and a Public Leadership Credential from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He was the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the Dish Network satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states. Tom has served and chaired various boards including Global Minnesota (formerly Minnesota International Center), the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has previously served as the first Black President of the Board of Directors at Books for Africa. He also serves on the boards of New Vision Foundation and the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium. He has previously served two terms on the board of the United Nations Association. An avid runner, he retired from running full marathons after turning 50 and now only focuses on training for half marathons.

About Tom Gitaa Gitaa, Editor-in-Chief

Born and raised in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, Tom is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Mshale which has been reporting on the news and culture of African immigrants in the United States since 1995. He has a BA in Business from Metro State University and a Public Leadership Credential from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He was the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the Dish Network satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states. Tom has served and chaired various boards including Global Minnesota (formerly Minnesota International Center), the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has previously served as the first Black President of the Board of Directors at Books for Africa. He also serves on the boards of New Vision Foundation and the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium. He has previously served two terms on the board of the United Nations Association. An avid runner, he retired from running full marathons after turning 50 and now only focuses on training for half marathons.

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