March 27, 2018
This series introduces scholarship graduates who keep striving towards a better future after the completion of the program.
Our focus for this installment is on Mr. Kariuki Boniface Wainaina (M.S. in Environmental Science, Hokkaido University)who returned to Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)in Kenya in 2016,as the acting Chief Technologist, Department of Mechatronic Engineering. On his graduation in Hokkaido University, he won the Numaguchi Award for him being the best student at the Faculty of Environmental Science. Then, even after returning to Kenya, he published a thesis paper on interannual and spatial variability of solar radiation energy potential in Kenya using Meteosat satellite, with his supervisor Prof. Tomonori Sato in Hokkaido University. He can also be one of ideal role models for educators who joined ABE Initiative program, as bridging personnel between Kenya and Japan.
* ABE Initiative: Master's Degree and Internship Program of African Business Education Initiative for Youth, launched by Japanese Prime Minister Abe in TICADV in 2013. Participants are from the private sector, government officials and educators.
* Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT): JKUAT was constructed with support from Japanese grants in 1981 as an agricultural diploma college. In addition to supporting construction of JKUAT, JICA has continued to support its programs cutting across various sectors, including agriculture, engineering, energy and human resource development. Many members of the university have also received short and long-term training in Japan.
This article centers on the achievements of Mr. Boniface Kariuki, who feels he owes it all to a chance he got through JICA Kenya office to study for his Masters in Japan under ABE, Africa Business Education Scholarship.
For a brief introduction, Boniface is the acting Chief Technologist, Department of Mechanical Engineering at JKUAT (Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology).
He is a Graduate of Hokkaido University, Graduate School of Environmental Science having done his research on assessment of Solar resource potential in Kenya with a focus on variability.
Boniface's love of how he spends his days at work reflects immediately one meets him. Let us focus on this warm Friday morning in October 2017 when he walked through the doors of JICA Kenya office for a scheduled interview. Tightly and well secured in his arms was the physical evidence of hard work and passion. A very distinctive award as well as related certificates. All accorded to him due to his contributions while studying in Japan.
Of surprises, Boniface got a big one when he got contacted by his supervisor to be advised of unexpected recognitions. Upon his graduation and return to Kenya his Supervisor, Prof. Tomonori Sato informed him that he had received the Numaguchi Award for him being the best student at the Faculty of Environmental Science. This was an addition to other certificates that his being an outstanding student had won him.
At JICA Kenya office, he is received by the Chief Representative, Ms. Keiko SANO together with other staff members related to ABE Scholarships who all sit with him for a brief interview. This though turns out to be an interactive session highlighting Boniface's entire experience during his study stay in Japan.
Expressively, and after the introductions, Boniface first words directly move to his known passion. Solar energy. He recognizes that though Kenya's concentration is on geothermal power, there is more to be explored. To him, Solar Energy is the way to go as with Japan and the US whereas solar technologies are advanced, but still experiencing remarkable growth. His argument is that with the increasingly tremendous energy demand in Kenya, solar should be considered a great complement to geothermal energy.
On being asked about his take on the ABE Program, as it was its support which facilitated for his study in Japan, Boniface talks of taking real impact to the society. It is also in Japan where he learnt the importance of service to people. Something he experienced firsthand from his supervisor, Prof. Tomonori Sato, who always availed himself whenever sought out for and also offered immeasurable help. In his words, this is a very important trait he proudly picked and brought to his current work place whereas both his colleagues and the students he lectures have the honor of enjoying. For continuous improvements, he has incorporated KAIZEN, a concept he learnt while in Japan.
The ABE Program helped Boniface reach heights he never dreamt of. Among the many opportunities he had while in Japan was attending a seminar in Yokohama on Photo voltaics. He has also written a paper on Interannual and spatial variability of solar radiation energy potential in Kenya using Meteosat satellite . This can be accessed online via
On the University, Boniface feels he got the best. The facilities are quite conducive and especially for international students; both academically and socially. Everything, right from the library, computer labs, etc are so efficient in a way he never imagined was possible or even existed. The supervisors are well versed in English and there was not a time he had communication challenges due to language barriers.
Being a first timer in Japan, and with all the excitement of being there, he even never remembered to make a few checks for prior information, one of them being the weather. That's how winter caught him off-guard. At first it was exciting but after things changed after two weeks. He still laughs when he remembers how he once had a really funny fall to the ground since he was not accustomed to walking on snow. He says that though the Japanese culture is quite closed up, he did enjoy the interactions he had with the Japanese people. On food, it took him some bit of time but finally acquired the taste. He did surprise the JICA Japanese staff with his familiarization of some of the authentic Japanese foods, which he even named and pronounced quite well. Eg, the shabu-shabu, which is thinly raw sliced pork pieces whereas the only cooking is when one does a quick pass of them through very hot water with specific herbs and then to the mouth.
Happy are the JKUAT students and staff working closely with Boniface. There is so much for them to emulate from him. Hope they fully take advantage of his willingness to pass his ‘Japanese' ways of life and work to them.
Mr. Kariuki in JKUAT.
Very interactive moment with Ms. Keiko SANO, JICA Kenya Chief Representative and Mr. Satoshi SUGIMOTO, JICA Kenya Senior Representative
Mr. Kariuki was happy to show off his medal to Ms. Keiko SANO, JICA Kenya Chief Representative.
What a display! There goes Mr. Kariuki's achievements while in Japan.