ENTEBBE – The Minister of East African Community Affairs, Hon. Maj. Gen (Rtd) Kahinda Otafire has called upon the Inter-University Council of East Africa (IUCEA) to bring together universities to foster innovation on the African continent.
Otafire made the call while officiating over the Golden Jubilee celebrations of IUCEA, one of the oldest institutions in East Africa that were held at Golf View Hotel in Entebbe yesterday.
According to Otafire, the possibility that African scientists have the COVID-19 vaccine is high but no one recognizes them since their intellectual ability is overshadowed by other people.
He believes that if Africa came together as a continent, it would construct a lab and its scientists from these universities could compete in the development of not only the COVID-19 vaccine but also that of other diseases.
“We need to bring Africans together, if we do this as the United States of Africa (USA) and build a regional government, we would do much bigger things. We have the brains but we lack facilities and this could only be pushed by an institution like IUCEA,” he said.
Otafire added that now more than ever, Africans need to think outside the box and create the USA to achieve what they have for long failed to.
“Sovereignty in poverty is poverty in sovereignty, we think we are sovereign but we are poor. I believe it is time to wake up now. IUCEA has kept our universities together over the years corresponding and fostering the USA is something they can ably do.”
The Golden Jubilee celebrations accorded the achievements made through the journey of cooperation and development of higher education in East Africa.
It also presented an opportunity for higher education stakeholders to plan together on the future direction of IUCEA and higher education in general.
Prof Faustin Karrani Bee, the Chairman Executive Committee said that over the last 50 years, IUCEA has been fostering the development of higher education in the East African region and it is proud to be the eldest institution in the region.
“This would not be possible if it were not for the able leaders like the executive secretary and the committee that has been holding forte over the years. IUCEA has facilitated forum for discussions across the region on academic standards across the region,” he said.
Karrani also thanked the governments for the continued support over the 50 years saying their existence would not have been possible without them.
According to Mike Kuria, the Ag. Executive Secretary IUCEA, the 50 years celebration is a time for them to look back where they have come from to predict where they are going.
“If you want to go forward in future, look at togetherness and education. Education has the power to unite people to live and work together,” he said, adding that they offer an education system that communicates with each other in a bid to have all the universities synchronize to accept documents and application of jobs.
He highlights that much as they have sailed through the 50 years, harmonization on policies is still a major challenge.
“Both foreign and local students in our universities have to pay the same fees without setting different structures for each category. The unfortunate bit is that this is still not happening and that is why we need policies to have this harmonized regionally, “he shared.
The event marked IUCEA’s journey from the then Inter-University Committee (IUC) which mainly focused on academic cooperation between three colleges to the current Inter-University Council for East Africa, an institution of the East African Community (EAC) responsible for the development of higher education for human resource development and research.
In June 1963, the University of East Africa was established. The University was formed out of three colleges – Makerere College (Uganda), Royal College (Kenya), and University College of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) which were then singularly colleges of the University of London.
In 1970, the University of East Africa was dissolved and autonomous universities were established – Makerere University, the University of Nairobi, and the University of Dar es Salaam. The stakeholders in higher education in the region agreed to establish the Inter-University Committee (IUC) in 1970 to allow the three universities to continue with academic collaboration.
After the breakup of the former EAC (1967-1977) the three universities resolved to cooperate and IUC continued with its coordination role until 1980 when a MoU was signed between the three universities and transformed the IUC into the Inter-University Council for East Africa.
Following the Treaty that established the EAC in 1999, IUCEA was recognized as one of the surviving institutions of the former EAC and in 2002, the partner states agreed to establish a corporate body to be known as the Inter-University Council for East Africa, through the IUCEA Protocol 2002.