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African Universities Must Redefine Themselves to Become Relevant to the Society, Experts Speak at KIU Research and Innovation Webinar


“Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity” Frantz Fanon

The Kampala International University Research and Innovation Webinar Series organized by the Directorate of Research, Innovations, Consultancy, and Extension which had industry stakeholders, university administrators, and innovators in attendance ended with a charge that only African solutions can innovate and develop Africa.

The 2-day webinar moderated by Dr. Wardah Rajab-Gyanjenda, KIU, Director Higher Degrees, and Research, Prof. Tijani Ahmad, KIU Deputy Director RICE (Western Campus), and Dr. Julius Matsiko, KIU Deputy Director RICE (Main Campus) focused on Research and Innovation in the Post-pandemic Era has set in motion a much-needed conversation about the relevance of Africa in a post-pandemic world. 

In his opening remarks, the KIU Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Mouhammad Mpezamihigo said the webinar was necessitated by the circumstances of COVID-19, the university “needs to harmonize the thoughts from different participants on how best we can look at research at innovation in the post-pandemic era”.

Among the speakers were Prof. P.L.O Lumumba, Founder, PLO Lumumba Foundations; Ms. Mariam Basajja, a Ph.D. student at Leiden University, Netherlands and Technical Coordinator, VODAN Africa; Prof. Umar Kakumba, DVC–Academic Affairs, Makerere University; Prof. Labode Popoola, Vice-Chancellor, Osun State University, Nigeria and Assoc. Prof. Chukwuemeka Diji, DVC Research, Innovations, Consultancy and Extension (RICE), KIU.

The DVC Academic Affairs, Prof. Tayo Arulogun, DVC Finance, and Administration, Assoc. Prof. Janice Busingye, DVC Western Campus, Prof. Patrick Kyamanywa, and KIU Director of Research, Innovations, and International Relations, Prof. Francisca Oladipo also gave their remarks during the webinar series.

African Research Must Define its Vision to be Relevant

“Why is it that a continent that promises so much delivers so little,” said Prof. P.L.O Lumumba as he set the sail for the 2-days webinar with his presentation on Research and Innovations in National Development: Universities as Nexus.

According to him, Africa has depended too much on the West for guidance, assistance, and leadership which has resulted in the situation where Africa is now held back in research.

“What can Africa do to reduce independence on other civilizations. We still believe our longtime wellbeing lies in the Commonwealth. African countries still look to their colonial masters. We must decolonize our minds in Africa”, Prof. Lumumba said further.

Prof. Lumumba, Prof. Kakumba, and Prof. Popoola all emphasized the need for impact-focused research where research activities carried out by universities are geared towards solving societal problems.

According to Prof. Kakumba “university research should be built on an agenda and aligned to global problems”

Research Should be Focused on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

“You cannot take the gown to the town when you are not aware of the sustainable development goals”, said Prof. Kakumba.

In a globalized world with international competition, international mobility, and opportunities for international collaboration. If African universities are not focused on solving SDGs that focus on ending poverty and hunger, sustainable communities, good health, and quality education, industry, innovation, infrastructure, and other SDGs, nobody in the world is going to help us.

Prof. Popoola reiterated this fact when he told the audience that researchers have a key role to play in achieving SDGs in Africa. He advised them to start thinking beyond national boundaries so they can focus on knowledge sharing and information transfer. He also said, “the information we are going to share should have value in the lives of the people”.

Prof. Chukwuemeka Diji urged research to embark on research that will produce expert opinions on issues affecting the society.

African Researchers Should Use Digital Tools to Conduct the Right Research

In her presentation on Digital Research Methods and Electronic Tools as Necessitated by COVID-19 Pandemic, Ms. Mariam Basajja explored the importance of adopting digital research tools.

“Researcher can use digital research methods like online surveys, web-based experiments, online interviews, online focus groups, cyber ethnography, literature review, and case study”

She also told the audience about digital research tools for analyzing data which includes MATLAB, R-Programming, Python, SPSS, Tableau, Apache Spark, and Excel.

The event had participants from Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Ethiopia, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Nigeria.