Forty-five Kenyan students are leaving the country for Japan to join the African Business Initiative (ABI).
The initiative, which was started in 2013, is now in its second phase.
Last year, a total of 54 students from Kenya joined the initiative, bringing the total of Kenyan students to enrol in the programme to 99.
The programme was initiated by The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, for the youth during the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development in 2013.
According to Japan’s Ambassador to Kenya Tatsushi Terada, the Initiative is a strategic four-year partnership to provide 1000 African youth with opportunities to study Masters Degrees at Japanese universities and do internships in enterprises there.
“Through the first batch of this program, one hundred and fifty students from eight African countries arrived in Japan last year. I am proud to report that the largest number of students – 55 – were selected from Kenya,” said Terada.
The intention of the programme is to develop human resources on the continent. According to Terada, this will strengthen Africa’s working relation and its cooperation with Japan.
“More and more Africans are keen to learn about Japanese technologies and the systems of enterprises, hence the launch of the program,” he explained.
The forty-five students went through rigorous tests and were shortlisted amongst thousands of applicants. This then secured the applicants vacancies at Japanese universities such as Hokkaido University, Wesada University, International University of Japan, Tokyo University of Japan, Kyushu University, Osaka University and Kumamoto University among others.
Courses that they will enrol in include engineering, Information Technology, Dentistry, Economics, Agriculture and International Management among others.
Among those who will be joining the programme is Flavia Nasambu Okanya from Bungoma County. She has previously worked at Geothermal Development Company and will undertake International Relations at International University of Japan.
“I am looking forward to doing my Master’s in Japan. This is definitely going to be a life-changing experience,” Okanya said.
Present at the send off was George Okaka and Samuel Andai, who are in the first batch.
Okaka, who is in his first year at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology majoring in Irrigation and Drainage, says that the opportunity has so far been of benefit. He further explains that he is now enhanced with more skills that would take him to greater heights.
“I therefore encourage more Kenyans and Africans to apply for the programme. Japan’s studying environment is very different from Kenya’s. There is a very close relationship between lecturers and students. The country is also very hospitable,” said Okaka, whose programme ends in two year’s time.
Students who get the opportunity to enrol in the programme also get added benefits. For instance, they are availed with free accommodations and allowances. They also get to experience the culture of Japan.
Additionally, the students are able to stay in contact with Kenya’s embassy in Japan. This enables them to acquire any assistance if they require any.
The Kenya Private Sector Alliance also stays in contact with the students.
“We want to be of assistance to students in Japan as much as possible for the sole purpose that they will come back with the skills they acquire to develop our country,” a representative from the Alliance said.
The programme has also become a bridge between Kenya and Japan.
According to Terada, the programme is already reinforcing Kenya’s relations and collaborations on business.
“I wish every student as they go to Japan to succeed the pioneering spirits of the first batch of students and pursue the opportunities to consolidate the ties of our two countries,” Terada said.
Also present at the send-off was Annick Henriette from Seychelles, who will be joining Nagoya University to study International Development.