UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI  @ 50

Centre for translation and Interpretation       

The Centre for Translation and Interpretation owes its origin to joined effort of many stakeholders including the European Union Institutions, the African Development Bank, African Union, several African Regional Organizations, The United Nation and The University of Nairobi.

By 2010, this plan had grown into a centre of excellence on the African continent teaching post-graduate programmes in translation, conference interpreting and public service interpreting

In the face of the dearth of qualified professional translators and interpreters from the African continent and a declining number of these professionals in the western countries, a project dubbed “the African project was initiated in the context of meetings of the International Annual Meeting on Language Arrangements, Documentation and Publication by one of its members.

The objective of the African project was to establish post-graduate university programmes in translation, conference interpreting and public service interpreting through centres of excellence on the African continent.

The initial phase of the initiative was spearheaded by the United Nation through its office in Nairobi, which had commissioned a report (by Mr. Noel Muylle) on the existing facilities and actual needs in Africa, before convening a stakeholders’ conference in Nairobi in February 2009.

At the conference, a way forward was agreed on and a number of recommendations adopted in a joint declaration (the Gigiri Declaration).

The three-day Pan-African conference featured workshops on four major themes (translation, conference interpretation, public service interpretation and e-learning) and one of the main outcomes was the offer by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to provide technical and financial support of a feasibility study, and to help mobilize additional financial support for the project.

The University of Nairobi took the lead among a core group of Universities representing the different main linguistic regions of Africa and succeeded in not only getting full endorsement for these post-graduate degree courses, but started running them with pedagogical support mainly from the United Nation and the European Union institutions.

It is worth noting that the African project received widespread support and was hailed by the United Nation general Assembly as a major step towards filling the gap, in Africa and elsewhere in the area of professional translators and interpreters.

With effect from June, 2010, the Centre for translation and interpretation received the first cohort of interpreters and translators the two groups had a total number of seven (7) students to 172 students currently.

Since 2010, the Centre for translation and Interpretation has grown from a centre under The linguistics department to a fully-fledged centre with a Director,. It has grown from teaching two (2) courses that is MA in Translation and MA in Interpretation to teaching five (5) courses that is PhD in Translation, PhD in interpretation, and MA in translation, MA in interpretation and Diploma in community in interpretation currently.

The centre has also received a grant worth 47million from the European Union that has given full bursaries to 47 students and mobility internship funding 22 students. This has also improved the face of the centre to compete globally with other institutions by procuring state of the art equipment and language labs.

The centre has developed partnerships and linkages, below is the list:

MOU between The United Nations and the University of Nairobi which as signed in 2010, it is a two year renewable agreement which is active to date.

The Centre has the European Union and European Commission (SCIC) strong partners. This also lead to formation of an umbrella called Pan-African Masters Consortium in Interpretation and Translation (PAMCIT) which included network of centres of excellence that teach translation and Interpretation disciplines in Africa. This also lead to a memorandum of the University of Nairobi and four others on 2011 the partner Universities are:

- Cameroon - Advanced School of Translators and Interpreters at the University of Buea in  


- Ghana - University of Ghana

 - Kenya - University of Nairobi

 - Mozambique - Universidade Pedagógica de Moçambique

- Senegal - Université Gaston Berger


Project Cooperation Agreement – The United Nation Office at Nairobi and The University of Nairobi signed in 2016 and amended in 2019

MOU between the University of Nairobi and Diaconia University of Applied Sciences signed in 2018

MOU between University of Nairobi and Salamanca ( spain) signed in 2019

MOU between the University of Nairobi and the University of Malaga signed in 2021.

The Centre Have had five curriculums generated and approved for teaching since its inception the courses include:

MA in Translation Approved in 2010

MA in Interpretation Approved in 2010

PhD in Translation Approved in 2019

PhD in Interpretation Approved in 2019

Diploma in Community Interpreting Approved in 2020, this diploma has received full funding of 20 students in refugee camps by the UNHCR. This is a professional course designed to train Community Interpreters to international standards for them to respond to the rising market in Africa, in particular since the number of migrants and other multicultural interaction has increased drastically in the recent years. Demand has grown, yet to date, Community Interpreting is essentially a non-regulated profession that lacks uniform standards when it comes to quality, training, ethics, remuneration or a shared definition. Apart from the term Community Interpreters, other, overlapping terms that are in use are: public service interpreting, dialogue interpreting, cultural mediation or ad hoc interpreting, often performed by a relative or personal associate to the client, which may entail the risk of bias


The Centre has state of the art facilities and these include:

Digitalized interpretation equipment

Computer laboratory

Internal library

Video conferencing equipment

Strong wifi connection

Comfortable lecture rooms 

Expiry Date