A Voyage to East Africa: Destination Kenya
In July 2016, lecturers of the HSE master’s programmes in Population and Development and Public Policy took a week-long exploratory journey to Kenya, where they visited Maseno University, the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, and Nairobi University.
The visit was organized by the Embassy of Kenya in the Russian Federation, and the present charge D’ Affaires Mr. Hillary Kyengo led the delegation, the aim of which was to introduce the HSE teachers to the leading educational institutions of Kenya. Vladimir Kozlov, academic supervisor of the Population and Development, and Sanjay Kumar Rajhans, Deputy Head of the Public Policy Department, visited various universities in Nairobi and Kisumu with Kephas Agure, student of the Higher School of Economics (MA Population and Development).
This trip was a step forward for better appreciation and understanding of one of the largest economic powerhouses in East Africa. Kenya is one of the most stable economies in East Africa with a population of more than 45 million. Kenya's various ethnic groups typically speak their mother tongues within their own communities. The two official languages, English and Kiswahili, are used in varying degrees of fluency for communication with other populations. English is widely spoken in commerce and education. Kenya is the biggest and most advanced economy in East and Central Africa, and has an affluent urban minority, Kenya is East and Central Africa's hub for financial services. The Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) is ranked 4th in Africa in terms of market capitalization.
On the first day of the visit, the delegation headed to the city of Kisumu, on the banks of Lake Victoria, where they met Professor Joseph Chacha, Deputy Vice Rector of Maseno University (in charge of education, research and innovation), and other university officials. HSE delegates gave a presentation about HSE and discussed possible areas of cooperation between HSE and Maseno University. They expressed mutual interest in education and research cooperation in many areas including maths, economics, public policy, population and development studies, and international affairs.
The visit to Kisumu also included a meeting with Prof. Benson Estambale, Vice Rector of the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, who is in charge of international cooperation, innovation and research. The university leadership showed great interest in cooperating with HSE, particularly through student and faculty exchange. The university has a special emphasis on computer science and technology, as well as healthcare management.
The highlight of the trip to Kisumu was a visit to the ancestral house of the President of the United States, Barack Obama, and the HSE delegation was met there by Mr. Hillary Kyengo, Charge D’ Affaires of Kenya in the Russian Federation. President Obama’s step-grandmother received the HSE delegation, which brought her some HSE souvenirs. Mama Sarah Obama (as she is fondly addressed among the native Kenyans) showed an interest in visiting Moscow. Mama Sarah Obama runs an international non-profit organization for local educational and health opportunities. The delegation discussed the possible dissemination of Sarah Obama’s work among the HSE fraternity and the possible help that might follow. The delegation was warmly greeted by the half-brother of President Obama, Mr. Malik Obama. The delegates were introduced to Senator Peter Anyang Nyong, who, besides being the former minister of planning, is himself a leading international scholar in Political Science.
The last leg of the visit was in Nairobi where the delegates were received by the Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor of Nairobi University, the oldest and the most prestigious university in East Africa.
The general impression and the preliminary outcome of this visit to Kenya has been some very encouraging signs of growing cooperation between HSE and the leading universities of Kenya, one of the leading economies of the African continent.