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IDS Receives Ukraine Delegation

Ukraine Delegation and IDS/UON meeting

IDS Receives Ukraine Delegation

The Institute for Development Studies was on Wednesday, 7th February 2024 privileged to host a Ukraine Delegation on a visit to Kenya.  In attendance were Lesia Vasylenko of Ukraine Parliament, Anastacia Kapzanova of Ukraine Institute, Oleksande Demianiuk of the Ukraine Embassy, Sophia Kravel and Louis Brorke, both from Zinc Network, Oleksandr Khomiak of No Labels NGO, and Dr Abdikadir Adan from Tri Pillar consultant.

The University of Nairobi team included Prof. Karuti Kanyinga, Director of Research, IDS, Prof. Paul Kamau, IDS Associate Director, Prof. Mohamud Jama, former IDS Director, Prof. Mary Kinoti, the Director of Innovation and Intellectual Property and Dr. Omosa Ochwangi of the Veterinary Medicine and Global Initiative and International Cooperation at the office of the Vice Chancellor.

In the strive for a collaboration agreement, the delegation noted that Kenya could be a gateway to Africa for Ukraine. Ukraine through its Institute for Cultural Interaction is particularly interested in understanding the Kenyan society better and in the process of teaching Swahili language in Ukraine.

Prof. Kanyinga noted that the University of Nairobi and in particular IDS is open to collaboration and presently has networks throughout the world. He added that the visit was an opening to expand the area of research, promote student exchange programs (Master's and PhD students) and explore other opportunities.

Prof. Paul Kamau noted that Kenya and Ukraine have shared a history of strategic cooperation. He also noted that Kenya primarily exports raw products to Ukraine but imports processed goods. The nature of the trade has, therefore, for long favoured Ukraine. He said he looks forward to an engagement that will enhance collaboration, trade and intercultural exchange.

Prof. Jama noted that IDS has an influence and positive reputation in the development discourse. Being the oldest of its kind, the institute enjoys a history of participating in policymaking in the country. IDS has continued to work on several projects with institutions like the World Bank, DANIDA, and UNEP.

Dr. Omosa’s statement on striving for collaboration indicated that Kenya and particularly research and teaching institutions like UoN are interested in technology transfer. There are, for example, development issues in Kenya that need urgent solutions and technology transfer will come in handy. Apart from the student exchange programs, the UoN staff can also get opportunities for sabbatical leave in Ukrainian institutions of higher learning and vice versa. He placed particular emphasis that the collaboration should have a lasting human connection and should not only be in paperwork.

Prof. Kinoti stated that Kenya has a large population of young and vibrant students whose potential should be tapped. There is, therefore, a need to scale up the transfer of technology. This will help in contextualizing innovations for Kenya. This can, for example be done through innovation centers and technology hubs. Entrepreneurship and innovation will help change mindsets so that students move from job seekers to job creators.

The head of the Ukraine delegation Anastacia Kapzanova said that Ukraine has strategically chosen Kenya as a strategic partner which will continue to yield strategic opportunities. She also stated that Ukraine is seeking to enhance cultural exchange, and artistic exchanges and explore areas of benefits to establish a connection between people. She also touched on the place of Ukraine literature and the spread of knowledge about Kenya. Ukraine has for example been successful in doing this in Indonesia and South Africa and will be keen to facilitate this in Kenya.

Online conferences on different themes will intensify the relationship between UoN and the Embassy of Ukraine in Kenya and the people of the respective countries. The Kenyan team therefore expects to see roundtable discussions with the embassy and have Ukraine as a gateway to Europe. The Ukraine delegation suggested that this will be better implemented by financing research grants, online workshops and courses, facilitating connections with the right partners and opportunities and women leadership.

Prof. Kanyinga was quick to note the areas of immediate quick wins such as online seminars and workshops that will soon take place. The two delegations were urged to involve their students and staff. The online seminars will seek to unravel the question of ‘what can be learnt from both sides’. It will involve three to four topics of joint interest.

The team will also need to have two or three symposiums on trade and development between Ukraine and Kenya. Prof. Kanyinga also hinted at the need to have two or three Universities in Ukraine in collaboration with UoN to have a dual PhD programme where students will get exposure from the two sides of the world.

Interested in the collaboration, the Ukraine delegation sought clarification on the capacity of the UoN to facilitate it. This was answered by Prof. Jama who affirmed that UoN has the capacity, both in research and teaching. IDS in particular has had a rich history of undertaking surveys, and publishing policy briefs and newsletters on development-related themes.

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