The University of Nairobi (UoN) and University of Helsinki (UH) have joined forces to forge a strategic partnership that will play a part in solving some of the most pressing challenges of our times which include the future of the planet, climate change, loss of biodiversity, the current pandemic and future pandemics.
In a kickoff event held virtually on March 24, 2021, the leadership from both institutions signed the memorandum of understanding. In 2015, discussions between the two universities led to a collaborative research on zoonotic and emerging viral infections in Kenya. In 2020, talks on collaboration between the University of Nairobi, the University of Helsinki and Rektor, a private Finnish company led to another collaborative agreement being signed this month. This collaboration will see the launch of an online course on Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the School of Computing and informatics. This course is vital because AI-based applications are now being developed in every domain of social and economic life. Students in computing and non-computing fields need to study the course to prepare them for a world in which there is a proliferation of AI-based applications.
UoN Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Stephen Kiama, noted that the institution has placed a high premium on establishing partnerships, linkages and collaborative engagements with governments, industry and other institutions of higher education as it builds and enhances knowledge bases and growth opportunities.
“The collaboration with the University of Helsinki in Finland is aimed at fostering research, training as well as technology transfer for both staff and students. It is through such collaborations that our vision; to be a world-class university committed to scholarly excellence will be realized,” said Prof. Kiama.
In her address, Rector Sari Lindblom, stated that the University of Helsinki aims to drive change and make a strong impact globally. “We want our students to become change makers; we believe that Science and learning is for everyone. We want to address challenges in food security, good health and quality education for all. Nobody can solve these challenges on their own; we need excellent partners to flourish.”
On his part, the Principal Secretary, State Department of University Education and Research, Amb. Simon Nabukwesi noted that the partnership between one of the leading universities in Africa and one of the best universities in Europe represents an innovative approach to tackle some of the most vicious problems we are facing globally today.
“With a special focus on One Health, Food Security and Teacher Education, the two universities are joining their forces to create something new and exciting that will benefit not only our two countries but also our continents. This collaborative partnership is meant to open new fields of research and convert research outputs into actions,” Amb. Nabukwesi said. “I am pleased to note that the partnership is founded on shared philosophy and values of contributing to a better society through discovery of new horizons of knowledge and promoting equality. The vision of this collaboration is to build an equal, long-term, mutually beneficial partnership that will bring added value to all the parties involved.”
Ms. Jutta Urpilainen the Commissioner for International Partnerships at the European Commission, Mr. Tuomo Puumala the State Secretary for the Ministry of Culture and Education in Finland and Ambassador Erik Lundberg the Ambassador Finland to Kenya also shared their thoughts on the current and future prospects of the collaboration.