The Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya hosted at Université Paris-Saclay

Alumni Article published on October 12 2020 , Updated on October 13 2020

On October 2, 2020, H.E. Amb. Raychelle Omamo, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya was hosted at Université Paris-Saclay to meet with the players cooperating with Kenyan universities, and discuss issues of sustainable development.

Following the visit of President Emmanuel Macron to Kenya in 2019 for the One Planet Summit, President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya was invited in turn early October to attend the BIG-BPI fair on business and innovation. Within this framework, and on the basis of existing cooperation between Université Paris-Saclay and Kenyan universities, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, H.E. Amb. Raychelle Omamo was welcomed at Université Paris-Saclay by its president, Prof. Sylvie Retailleau, for a morning of meetings and visits with a focus on technological education, renewable and geothermal energies, and sustainable development.

Cooperation with the Cachan IUT technical institute and CentraleSupélec

Université Paris-Saclay has strong ties with several universities of Kenya. The Technical University of Kenya (TUK) and the Technical University of Mombasa (TUM), who both signed an MOU with Université Paris-Saclay in 2019, have been working together with the Cachan IUT technical institute on a teacher training programme for two years now. A specific Solidarity and Innovation fund (Fonds de solidarité prioritaire et innovant) was implemented to help both Kenyan institutions reinforce their skills in key areas: electric and mechanical engineering, biomedical maintenance, and renewable marine energies. While 36 teachers were trained last year in Kenya, the Cachan IUT should be welcoming 20 teachers this November for further training in electrical and mechanical engineering. To support this fund and to reinforce the partnership, the Cachan IUT successfully submitted an Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility project, which will provide cross-mobility for 37 students and members of staff over 3 years in electrical and mechanical engineering as well as professional skills.

The University of Nairobi is another Kenyan institution working with Université Paris-Saclay, via its founding member CentraleSupélec, which is offering its expertise on an appraisal mission for the construction of a science and engineering complex on its campus linking green, sustainable, and fair design. On the basis of this work, academic cooperation should be starting shortly with the imminent signature of a memorandum of understanding.

Meeting with the players of cooperation

During her visit, H.E. Amb. Raychelle Omamo met with the Director of the Cachan IUT, as well as representatives of CentraleSupélec, and VPs of international relations, research, and sustainable development. Also able to present their work were Dr. Laure Kaiser-Arnauld, Director of Research and Head of the joint UPSaclay-CNRS-IRD-EGCE laboratory (Evolution, Genomes, Behaviour, Ecology), and Dr. Paul-André Calatayud, from the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development, currently posted at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi. The morning was also the opportunity for the Secretary to talk with Kenyan and Togolese alumni, as well as Master’s and PhD students, to hear about their experience as international students at Université Paris-Saclay.

Visit of the Process Engineering and Materials Laboratory

In line with the theme of sustainable development, H.E. Amb. Raychelle Omamo also visited the Process Engineering and Materials Laboratory where she was introduced to two projects – the first, led by a post-doctoral student, Dr. Clarisse Lorreyte, on biomass-derived hydrogen involving industrial, academic and regional players. This type of process can enable the production of hydrogen, which is a carbon-neutral fuel, in captive fleet applications (e.g taxi, bus, delivery truck). The second project presented by Prof. Filipa Lopes, professor and researcher at the LGPM, focuses on microalgae bioprocess and in particular on the development of innovative biofilm-based technologies. Valuable compounds (proteins, lipids, polysaccharides, pigments) are produced using these photosynthetic microorganisms with broad applications in food/feed, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

The fruitful discussions both with academic staff and researchers evidenced strong, mutual interest in developing and diversifying bilateral initiatives and laid the grounds for further collaboration.