Nust to complement Second Republic
THE National University of Science and Technology has vowed to play a major role in the Second Republic’s industrialisation drive by taking heed of President Mnangagwa’s clarion call for universities to lead in the industrialisation of the country.
This was said by the newly-installed Nust vice-chancellor, Professor Mqhele Dlodlo during his inaugural speech at the university’s 24th graduation ceremony on Friday where he emphasised the need for the institution to help develop novel products for both the local and export markets. He said there was a need to support Government policy and a need to exploit and protect the country’s heritage for the benefit of the entire nation.
“The Second Republic has clearly stated that universities will lead the industrialisation of Zimbabwe. Note that they have not said re-industrialisation, but industrialisation. That spells a different ball game altogether in which we can leapfrog past those nations saddled with legacy technologies and adopt the latest, most efficient, combinations of excellent technologies and international best practices.
“Think of the vast array of unique African fruits and vegetables that we know and pick from the forests and bushes without turning them into commercial agriculture products. It was not until the Japanese brought seaweed to the table and introduced the world to its raw fish, which they called sushi that the world learnt to eat all manners of sushi. Just imagine if African universities were to develop commercial grade fruits and vegetables from around the continent,” said Prof Dlodlo.
He commended the Government for coming up with the policy dedicating one percent of the Gross Domestic Policy (GDP) towards research and development. This dovetails into the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development’s statement of; Doctrine to guide the translation of Vision 2030 and the transitional stabilisation programme in higher and tertiary education, science and technology development.
“Today’s university must develop benchmarks right across its faculties for setting and maintaining high standards of curriculum development and management of quality. Some of the notable strategies among others of ensuring this are; continual curriculum review, benchmark content against best practices in teaching and learning and developing improved course, student and staff assessment strategies.
“Contemporary universities in Africa have traditionally kept aloof from what they regarded as the mundane task of commercialising the results of research. Little did they realise that the United States of America has the most formidable military industry because of its leading universities delivering military grade products from their research in collaboration with industry partners,” said Prof Dlodlo.
He said for any country that wanted to foster economic development, it had to stop importing primary goods and services but develop home grown manufacturing capacity.
“You cannot afford to be an industrial consumer, buying, assembling or packaging and selling. That is pure trade and without local industrialisation it will put Zimbabwe as a speculators’ market without bringing wealth home. As Nust, we affirm our readiness to continue if not accelerate partnerships with industry and the public sector to bring about economic freedom for us all as a nation. We are committed to continue finding new solutions that are globally incomparable yet locally relevant and appropriate. The opportunities are mind boggling,” said the Vice Chancellor.
He said while to some this might sound like a pipe dream this was actually a huge possibility considering the market ready products that were being produced at the university, whom he described as well educated minds.
“We produce solutions such as the genetic testing centre that has been in demand for a few years now, overgrowing its current building shell. We are actively looking to relocate it to more adequate premises through either donations or business partnerships. “We have the unique baling machine, and a host of other products that are ready for an industrial park, where they can be incubated and eventually spun off. We can hardly wait for anyone here that is looking for new business or product lines to come and start talking business with us. Those that have done so already, will soon be laughing all the way to the bank — after all Bulawayo is a special processing zone,” said Prof Dlodlo.
He said in order to prevent their inventors they were creating the organisational setup that scouts for the intellectual property value in the results and further work with them to develop their products into something marketable.