University and scientific cooperation
I. FRENCH RESEARCH ACTIVITIES IN KENYA
Three French research institutes in Kenya
French research is relatively well represented in Kenya with three institutes operating in East and Southern Africa. These are the Institute for Research and Development (IRD), the French Research Institute in Africa (IFRA), and the Center of International Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development (CIRAD).
Around twelve expatriate researchers work on social sciences and natural sciences (agronomy, geology, ecology). Long-term and short-term assignments are carried out by numerous researchers from these institutions or others: the National Center for Scientific Research-CNRS (palaeontology, geology, osteology), the National Museum of Natural History in Paris-MNHN (palaeontology), the National Institute for Health and Medical Research-INSERM (on the Rift Valley fever), and Universities (Lyon 2 and Paris 6 among others).
The research programmes carried out in Kenya by French researchers are undertaken in collaboration with Kenyan scientists. Quite a lot of research programmes involve other European or African partners. Funding is mainly done by research bodies themselves, the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the National Research Agency (ANR, France) and by the European Union.
Numerous and diversified partnerships
IRD scientific collaboration is mainly established with the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) and Kenyan universities (University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Jomo Kenyatta University, the Catholic University of Eastern Africa). Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is also involved in some programmes. Significant links exist with two international centres based in Nairobi: the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF).
CIRAD has developed co-operation links with several national research centres, namely Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI). In addition, public universities are involved in some scientific projects. These include Kenyatta University, Moi University, University of Nairobi, and Egerton University.
IFRA collaborates with six out of the seven Kenyan public universities (especially with the University of Nairobi) and with some international organisations on research programmes, PhD tutoring and consultancy.
II. THE POLICY OF THE FRENCH EMBASSY ON SCIENTIFIC COOPERATION
Coherence in research actions
The French Embassy policy is to maintain a coherent and concerted cooperation between the three research institutes. An agreement was signed in June 2009 with the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology (MOHEST) to highlight this policy.
Meetings are held twice a year, with French Research Institutes and the French Agency for Development (AFD) to share experience and work on possible joint action projects.
Promoting scientific partnership
The French Embassy policy is to support partnership efforts and initiatives between French higher education and research institutions (especially those based in Kenya) and similar Kenyan institutions with a view to strengthen Kenyan scientific capacities. This collaboration is mainly carried out through joint tutoring of Kenyan students completing a Master or a PhD, joint supervision of PhDs, research associates team, organisation of scientific workshops and summer school, teaching in universities, joint research programmes benefiting from French or European funding and memorandums of understanding.
Social utility of research
The French Embassy aims to integrate the research sector within other cooperation sectors and to link it to education, economy, social development and culture where many French stakeholders are present. In 2009, two community development projects involving the research sector (aquaculture development and heritage preservation) were financed by the Social Fund for Development (SFD). French expatriate researchers are sometimes requested for an expertise on community projects funded by the SFD. Popularization of science is done in Nairobi through conferences and exhibitions held at in the French school and Alliance Française.
III. UNIVERSITY AND SCIENTIFIC COOPERATION
Master and PhD scholarship programmes
Scholarships are mainly awarded to the Kenyan members of staff in national universities and research institutes with a view to strengthen institutional capacities. Some scholarships have been awarded to those working in the private sector or in the public service sector.
The programme funds PhD student’s upkeep in labs in France (three months per year on a three or four year period). Currently, twenty-two scholarship holders are pursuing their studies in France whereas seven others are waiting to enrol.
Supporting scientific projects
This programme aims at offering the French expertise on scientific research and pedagogic engineering issues.
The French Embassy funds or mobilizes external resources to launch assignments composed of French experts (technical aid from the French livestock institute to the Ministry of livestock development, February 1st to 6th).
The programme involves scientific or thematic workshops whose objective is to strengthen the capacities of Kenyan partners (for example the regional workshop on gemstones co-organised by IRD and the University of Nairobi, July 19th to 24th).
The French Embassy is also engaged in the promotion of science. It participates to the organisation of a scientific conference cycle at the French school on biomathematics (January 14th), water (February 25th), biodiversity (March 30th), energy (October 14th). Through this contribution, the Alliance française organised a conference on Biodiversity challenges in Kenya’s Tana Delta by Dr. Olivier Hamerlynck on March 19th, as well as several scientific exhibitions.
The French Embassy wants to participate towards the institutionalisation of current scientific co-operation. It fosters the establishment of memorandums of understanding between Kenyan and French research and higher education institutions, not only by funding assignments but also by providing advice and support to Kenyan institutions.
The French Embassy supports the development of an Alumni network that brings together former and current scholarship holders as well as former Kenyan students who studied in France for their Masters and PhDs. This initiative aims at creating a social network between Kenyan scientists (sharing of experience, promotion of science in Kenya, implementation of multidisciplinary projects, participation in scientific capacity building workshops) and maintaining cordial relations with various French institutions.
Helping implementation processes
The French Embassy tries its best to meet the needs of expertise formulated by the government (support in the setting of a tourism and hospitality college at the Coast) or by institutions (support in the setting of new master programmes in Strathmore university for instance). It provides advice and plays a facilitator role.
Furthermore the French Embassy is identifying new French partners who would contribute in strengthening local scientific capacities.