Tom Mboya University community in Homa-Bay County is in a celebratory mood after the institution was awarded a charter by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The institution has been operating as a constituent college of Maseno University since its inception in October 2016.
After being awarded the charter, the institution has now become a fully-fledged university and the name has changed to Tom Mboya University. This means it will be offering degrees.
The college Principal Professor Charles Ochola said the institution has been offering three main faculties with 27 academic programmes. The faculties are biological and physical sciences, business and economics, and education.
He said that the institution now has the capacity to introduce its own academic programmes.
Prof Ochola who has been heading the institution since inception said they are going to expand the academic programmes.
The Principal said their vision is to create a niche in the blue economy. The university is situated close to Lake Victoria.
Prof Ochola said they want to introduce programmes which enhance proper utilisation of Lake Victoria as a key resource in Nyanza region.
“This will involve understanding the lake to enable the university innovate ways through which it can transform livelihoods of the local community. Examples of such activities include aquaculture and conservation of the lake and its environment,” he said.
He said they will use innovative skills and research to utilise the lake and make it more beneficial to the local community.
Prof Ochola said in its accreditation report, the university has been given greenlight to offer 39 academic programmes for undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
The principal said the institution’s student population has grown to 5,000 from 140 when it started in 2016.
He said the university will contribute to the economic growth of the area noting that businesses are now flourishing in Homa Bay town because of the rising student population
“If every student spends the least amount they can spend, Sh100, on food per day, it means there is a minimum circulation of Sh500, 000 in a day in this town. The is a source of livelihood for many people in the community,” said Prof Ochola.
Tom Mboya University was named after the legendary trade unionist the late Tom Mboya who hailed from Rusinga Island in Homa Bay County.
Ochola said they want to ensure the university achieves the vision of Tom Mboya.
“Tom Mboya believed in air lifting of students from Kenya to overseas countries. We want to engage in international and local partnerships to ensure we airlift students from overseas countries to Kenya to join this university,” he added.
The head of Homa Bay County Bunge La Wenye Nchi Walter Opiyo and spokesman Evance Oloo said the handshake between Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Presidential candidate Raila Odinga and President Kenyatta will be remembered because of the charter.
“This is the major project we have acquired as Homa Bay residents through the handshake,” Oloo said.
Opiyo said the institution will give access to higher education to local residents.
“Our sons and daughters will be cushioned from traveling long distances in search of higher education,” Opiyo said.