A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development


Tabitha Kiriti Nganga (pictured, right), Vi coordinator at Kenyan core member, the University of Nairobi, developed the curriculum for a proposed Bachelor’s programme on international economics and trade during her Vi fellowship, October 6 to November 14.
The purpose of the programme is to prepare graduates to work in the government and the business sector, and to create a critical mass of students with a trade background for the university’s Master's in international trading systems.  

During her stay at UNCTAD, she held consultations with the Vi team about the overall thrust of the programme and the courses that would be included. She also had access to curricula of similar programmes at other Vi member universities, and met with a number of UNCTAD experts to discuss the content of individual courses. 
“I have met with a lot of help from everyone that I interacted with, and the curriculum is 100 percent complete,” said Kiriti Nganga, who rated her fellowship experience as having exceeded her expectations. “The experts that I met gave me a lot of reading material and expert advice.”
She received support on e-commerce from Torbjorn Fredriksson, of UNCTAD’s Division on Technology and Logistics (DTL); on trade negotiations from Miguel Bautista, of the Intergovernmental Support Service; on regional integration from Igor Paunovic, of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies; on competition law and policy from Elizabeth Gachuiri and Hassan Qaqaya, of the Division on International Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities (DITC); on trade in commodities and agricultural policy from Samuel Gayi, of the Special Unit on Commodities; and on trade facilitation and logistics from DTL’s Jan Hoffmann and Poul Hanson. She also gained insights into other current topics through discussions with Simonetta Zarrilli, of the Trade, Gender and Development Section, and Sonia Boffa, of the Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries and Special Programmes.
These meetings helped her fine-tune the content of the courses, and provided suggestions of possible readings for the students.
“The curriculum that I have developed will be discussed in the school of economics before it is discussed at a stakeholders meeting planned for around February 2015,” Kiriti said. “After that it will be discussed at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and presented to the university senate. We hope to admit our first students some time in 2016.”
Kiriti Nganga stressed that the goal of the programme was to prepare graduates with knowledge of trade to work in the government during a presentation facilitated by the Vi with Fredrik Matwang'a, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Kenya (pictured, left).
"During our studies, we learn economics on academic subjects,” Matwang’a said. “There is a missing link in how we connect this academic perspective with policies."
Matwang’a appreciated the policy orientation of the programme, and supported the idea of strengthening the links between academics and policymakers, suggesting that a mechanism at the institutional level be established to help foster the cooperation between the University of Nairobi and the government.