In a strategic move to propel regional development, Egerton University embarked on a courtesy visit to Nakuru County Governor Susan Kihika, igniting discussions that would set the pace for the ambitious County Aggregation Industrial Park (CAIP).
The delegation of 9 senior management officers from Egerton University led by Vice Chancellor Prof Isaac Kibwage with Governor Kihika addressed crucial aspects ranging from the urgency of gazetting the industrial park to disposal concerns of asbestos and extended to broader topics, including the launch of an endowment fund and the pressing need for on-campus hostels.
At the core of the discussions was the County Aggregation Industrial Park (CAIP), where Egerton University Council allocated 200 acres for a collaborative project with the National government. That is 100 acres for the CAIP and 100 acres for the Export Processing Zone (EPZ).
The urgency to gazette CAIP
Governor Kihika emphasized the urgency of gazetting the Egerton University Industrial Park, a crucial step to safeguard Kenya's Shillings 1 billion already allocated for the project.
The Governor underscored Egerton's pivotal role as a key investment partner, stressing on the need for real collaboration to harness the full spectrum of skills available at the university. She also expressed her commitment to supporting the Vice-Chancellor beyond the confines of boardroom activities.
She concurred with the Vice Chancellor's suggestion that the 200-acre land title deed for the County Aggregation Industrial Park should be in the name of Egerton University. However, she also proposed an extension of the lease period to be longer for the success of the project, recognizing the significance of this collaborative effort.
The financial commitment from the county and national governments, including one billion Kenyan shillings for the Export Processing Zone (EPZ), marked a transformative prospect for the Nakuru region and its agriculturally rich county. The county government has set aside Sh.250 Million and a top-up of a similar amount by the National government in this financial year.
Disposal of asbestos
Simultaneously, concerns were raised by the University regarding the disposal of asbestos used in roofing houses at Egerton University. Vice Chancellor Prof Isaac Kibwage sought the Governor's assistance in finding a suitable location for the safe disposal of asbestos removed from dilapidated roofs.
In response, Hon. John Kihagi. CECM of Lands, Housing, and Physical Planning, assured that plans were underway, including mapping asbestos areas, and both institutions agreed to collaborate towards a safe disposal process.
Egerton endowment fund
Transitioning to matters of academic and institutional development, the Vice Chancellor extended a formal invitation to the Governor for the launch of an endowment fund at Egerton University. Governor Kihika, in turn, pledged to invite her Governor colleagues who shared a connection with Egerton, such as Hon. Cecily Mbarire and Hon. Anne Waiguru among others to come during the endowment fund launch.
The Governor emphasized the critical role of endowment funds as engines that drive universities, highlighting their instrumental role in sustaining educational institutions.
The dialogue then shifted to the challenges of research funding at Egerton University. Prof Kibwage articulated the inadequacy of current research funding, emphasizing the difficulty in funding researchers at the university to sustain its operations. This underscored the importance of raising funds to support ongoing research activities, laying the groundwork for the impending endowment fund.
On-campus student hostels
The need for on-campus student hostels emerged as a pressing concern during the discussion. Prof Kibwage urged the Governor to consider the construction of hostels to ensure the safety of students. Governor Kihika resonated with this concern, stating that parents would feel a sense of security if their children were housed on campus.
“As parents, there is that feeling of safety for our children when they are housed on campus,” she explained.
The discussion on student accommodations unfolded, emphasizing the broader aspect of ensuring a safe and conducive living environment for students.
The discussions formed a strategic roadmap for Egerton University's transformative agenda even as the University also requested the county to partner in doing the road infrastructure within the University. The governor expressed optimism in supporting the request. She went on to invite Egerton University to the Investment forum organised by the County government where the American Ambassador will be a guest.
In essence, the courtesy visit to Governor Susan Kihika not only addressed the challenges and opportunities surrounding the County Aggregation Industrial Park. It was a session that enhanced a comprehensive approach and efforts aimed at addressing multifaceted challenges and propelling Egerton University into a new era of regional development.
By Kurian Musa
Directorate of Marketing and Resource Mobilization