Follow

Iran, Kenya ink deals with three universities to start nanotechnology course

By George Kebaso
Wednesday, January 27th, 2021
In summary

The Iranian government is in the process of inking deals with three universities based in Nairobi to start a Master of Science degree course on nano-technology, a field strong in research and innovation.

This course will start in the next semester in the University of Nairobi (UON); Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), and also the Africa Union-based Panafrican University.

Iranian embassy in Nairobi has confirmed that its government is finalising the necessary paperwork to enable Iranian scientists to start teaching the course that has modernised health; environmental and agricultural research elsewhere in the world.

Speaking a head of the official inauguration of the Iranian House of Innovation and Technology (iHiT) in Nairobi yesterday, Iranian Ambassador to Kenya, Jafar Barmaki said his country’s Vice President Dr. Sorena Sattari who is also in charge of Science and Technology, had good negotiations with Ministry of Education officials on starting the course.

“We had good negotiations with the Ministry of Education and hope to escalate this quickly to bring on board more institutions of higher learning in Kenya. Iran is one of the top countries in the world that has used nanotechnology to broaden research, and also modernise water purification and food packaging,” he added.

He said the talks explored new areas of cooperation with the Kenyan government especially regarding university education.

“One of the areas we have started to negotiate with Kenyan universities is nano-technology. We are ready to have developmental assistance to those universities in training and educating their students. In the next semester we hope to start the Master of Science Degree course in Nano-technoilogy with Panafrican University, University of Nairobi and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology,” he said.

Sattari, who led a delegation of 50 knowledge-based Iranian firms for a business to business meeting with Kenyan firms called on Kenyan youth involved in start-up businesses to take advantage of the new innovation hub to tap into a range of life changing technologies.

“The hub is a platform for the companies to network and evolve business and will result in the partnerships and more joint ventures between the two countries,” said Sattari.

He said there are good opportunities for the youth.

“I invite them to come because there are a lot of opportunities they can find here. This institution will facilitate the transfer of technology, ICT, biotechnology and nano-technology,” he added during the unveiling of the hub which was also graced by ICT cabinet Secretary, Joe Mucheru.

He said the iHiT offers investment opportunities for Kenyan start-ups, which forms a foundation to rejuvenate the bilateral relations between Kenya and Iran which dwindled in 2018 when the US renewed its sanctions against Iran.

The Asian country boasts of more than 5000 knowledge-based companies, some of them which are in Nairobi.

“Committed to building a bilateral relationship that would by itself enhance opportunities for both countries through business, trade and knowledge-based institutions,” he added.

The iHiT, he said, is set to help develop and export “knowledge products.”

This will see Iranian firms sharing technology information acquired over the years in fields such as pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, biotechnology, nano technology and other high tech.

The hub is located in Nairobi’s upmarket Kilimani and is the first of its kind in Africa. It will offer workspaces and technological infrastructure for Kenyan firms.

The balance of trade between Kenyan and Iran is hugely in favour of the Middle-East country that is diversifying from an oil based economy to a knowledge based one.

Kenya largely exports millions of kilograms of its tea to Iran and has continued to trade with the country amid Iran’s tiff with the US that has led to sanctions.

Mucheru said that the innovations would spur job creation among the youth and committed Government’s support to market the innovations.

“We hope good ideas will come out of the hub which we can commercialise and transform lives,” the CS noted adding; “we've put in a lot of investments as a government in terms of infrastructure, education, security and ensuring the laws put in place safeguard the intellectual property of innovations being created.”

In this regard, the hub is hosting start-up events for the youth on this weekend, starting tomorrow through to Sunday to learn from Iranian knowledge-based experts.

The Iranian delegation is set to meet the Kenya business community to strengthen trade relations between the two states.

In October 2018, Sattari led a high-ranking delegation of officials and heads of 45 knowledge-based companies to Kenya and Uganda for another business visit.