Kenyans are set to enjoy further democratized access to university education following the award of charter to the Open University of Kenya (OUK) by the President, Dr William Ruto at the Konza Technopolis earlier today. The charter now paves way for OUK – as it will be known – to commence operations and begin admitting students from next month.
Since coming to power, President Ruto has touted digital learning as a central part of delivering services and the Open University is one of the projects he made a bet on to mainstream access to university education to skill millions of young people for technology and digital jobs.
Speaking during the presentation ceremony and tour at Konza Technopolis, President Ruto namechecked the occasion as historic and one that marked a turning point in Kenya’s digital post-secondary education, coming hot on the heels of the reforms he announced in the education sector earlier in the week. The Open University of Kenya expects to extend tertiary education and innovation opportunities to more than 10,000 students across the country.
“We have set out to draw on modern technology to leapfrog barriers in distance, space and cost that hinder access to quality education and opportunities to exercise our creativity,” The President said.
The Open University of Kenya is the latest investor at the Konza Technopolis, which is run by the Konza Technology Development Authority (KoTDA), illustrating its accelerated progress in attracting organizations to set shop at the mega park billed as the Silicon Savanna of Africa.
“Today we can report that we have 68 investors on board. Two have already set up their operations and we expect more to break ground within this financial year”, said Prof Raphael Munavu, Chairman of Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA).
He explained that the Authority has made tremendous progress with first phase of development, achieving over 88 percent completion mostly focussed on infrastructure development. “The smart city facilities development is now 55 percent complete, the Konza Conference Facility is 59 percent done, while the Kenya Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)’s Core structure, Administration Buildings, Laboratories and Accommodation are at 17.58% completion”.
These developments, said Eliud Owalo, Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and the Digital Economy, are also buoyed by the technical support and financial resources committed to KoTDA by the Kenya Kwanza Government after the President made digital transformation a strategic focus of his administration. This fiscal year 2023/2024, the government has allocated more than Ksh. 8 billion to drive various projects. The CS noted that Konza Technopolis is central to the government’s digital masterplan citing six key areas expected to spur the country’s digital economy – Jitume Digital Skills, Digitization & Konza Technopolis.
He added that Konza Technopolis, together with the ICT Authority, and TVET Authority, is driving digital skills development among the youth through the Jitume Digital Skills Program in recognition of the transformative power of digital skills in shaping the future of the youth.
“In a special way, and laudable achievement, Konza has scored many firsts, which can be replicated in other cities across the country. It is here that we have a green building (Konza Complex), an operational National Data Centre, a non-motorised system, streetscapes, utility tunnels, automatic waste collection, water reclamation facility, water distribution and treatment, landscaping and parks, public facilities and bands guiding on the implementation of various projects,” he noted.
NOTE TO EDITORS
About Konza Technopolis
A key flagship project of Kenya’s Vision 2030 economic development portfolio, Konza Technopolis is coming up as a world-class city, powered by a thriving information, communications and technology (ICT) sector, superior reliable infrastructure and business friendly governance systems. Known as Africa’s Silicon Savannah, Konza Technopolis strides a 5000- acre master planned city located along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway with close proximity to major towns and attraction areas. Konza Technopolis is currently going through the completion of its first phase that covers development of infrastructure including roads, traffic management system, water and energy systems as well as the 8 storeyed head office block, a conference centre, the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and a data centre.
About the Open University of Kenya
The mission of the Open University of Kenya (OUK), which has been set up by the Ministry of Education, is to provide flexible and affordable access to education and training, breaking down barriers and using technology to reduce the effects of geographical, economic, and social barriers. OUK intends to offer programmes that mostly be offered on-line, leading to the award of Degrees in Agriculture; Business and Entrepreneurship; Education Technology; Data Science; Agricultural Technology and Business Management and Cyber and Digital Forensic.