On Wednesday 27th January 2021, the Director General, Prof. Walter Oyawa hosted a team from the Embassy of France and three French research institutions with operations in Kenya namely, the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), the French Institute in Africa (IFRA) and the French Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD). The team was led by Dr. Mathieu Guerin, Attaché for Science and Higher Education at the Embassy of France in Kenya. The purpose of the meeting was to share information on the cooperation between France and Kenya in research and training in higher education, and to identify opportunities for partnership in strengthening research in accordance with the provisions of the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Act of 2013.
From the discussions, it emerged that the French government has been supporting numerous research projects in Kenya under collaborative agreements with universities, research institutions and the Ministry of Education. There are many programmes supporting students from the two countries to undertake their studies in respective institutions of higher education. It was observed that there is need to have a systematic way of documenting the research activities being undertaken under the French-Kenya cooperation to enable NACOSTI’s reporting to the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Education on the status of research in the country.
The team was briefed on the requirements for research licensing and registration of research institutions as provided in the STI Act 2013. This was found to be an important area since there are French students and researchers who require research permits in order to undertake their research in Kenya. Further, the French research institutions operating in Kenya were encouraged to seek registration in order to access opportunities for sharing their work, offer affiliation to foreign researchers and host research ethical review committees.
There were concerns on the research licensing fees which sometimes inhibits researchers particularly students who are interested in conducting research in Kenya but cannot afford to pay the USD400. The issue of multiple research licensing requirements which sometimes causes delays particularly for donor funded projects which are time-bound was also discussed. It was agreed that there is need for further engagement in order to resolve the two outstanding issues to facilitate researchers who have an interest in undertaking studies in the country.