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​Housing the next generation of Kenya’s leaders: A PPP that makes the grade

Evans Kamau's picture
Many university students learn Newton’s third law: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. At one Kenyan university, two very positive actions – narrowing the backlog of students admitted after high school graduation, and a 2002 government bill declaring free primary education for all – led to the nation’s first public-private partnership (PPP), a most unexpected reaction. 
Existing student hostel at Kenyatta University

Kenyatta University (KU) has 50,000 students, and because of the national momentum on education, enrollment is expected to increase to 70,000 in the next two years. The only problem with this huge step forward has been housing all of these new students; currently, the university’s 22 hostels house only about 10,000 undergraduate students. KU’s status quo-shattering PPP will result in housing for 10,000 more students, at the same time marking it as the first public institution to deliver a PPP project under Kenya’s Public Private Partnership Act of 2013. 
For the 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students who will now be able to live on campus, this PPP earns an “A” for a different reason – it’s the first time these students will have access to regulated, fairly priced accommodations with no commute or accompanying transportation charges to class. And by living on campus, these students can safely study long into the night at the library and other university facilities – which is critical to the intellectual development of this next generation.
The right time + the right partner + the right place = the right PPP
Until recently, Kenyan students graduating from high school were typically forced to wait two years before registering at universities, due to backlogs created in the late 1990s as a result of student unrests and lecturer strikes that led to long closures of educational institutions. In the past few years, however, the University Joint Admission Board, working through government, decided to reduce the backlog by one year.  Numbers tell the rest of the story: nationwide, university student enrollments grew from 96,000 to 160,000 in 2015.  In addition, the free primary education introduced in 2002 tripled the number of students in primary schools, which also energized enrollment. Predictably, these two positive developments stressed the capacity of university facilities, and Kenyatta University has been struggling to meet the need for students’ accommodation.

Securing peace with development, saying goodbye to a great leader

Makhtar Diop's picture

As we reflect on the promise of the New Year in Africa, the irrefutable link between peace and development has never been clearer after my recent travels.

Earlier this month, I joined leaders from 53 African nations, the United Nations, and the African and European Unions at the Elysee Summit for Peace and Security  in Africa to talk candidly about how our countries can work together to maintain and enhance peace.

We talked about what this would mean in practice. For example, we must curb drug trafficking on the continent, increase financing for African peacekeeping operations, fight terrorism, manage borders more securely, include women fully in the political and economic decision-making process, and condemn the intolerable persistence of sexual violence when conflicts do occur. This last measure was strongly endorsed by the First Ladies of the Summit who also met to discuss issues of gender, development, and women’s rights.

The African leaders recognize that for many of these measures to work, economic development must be twinned with public and private investment in business, technology, agriculture, climate-smart policies, and in young people who are fast becoming Africa’s driving force and future. Africa is now the world’s youngest continent and how well we meet the skills needs of our young people will greatly determine the continent’s future.