Mashudu Netsianda-Deputy News Editor
The National University of Science and Technology’s (Nust) Technovation Centre will ramp up the discourse around how Zimbabwe can harness the positive impact of the emerging frontiers of science and technology and address the country’s socio-economic needs, President Mnangagwa has said.
He said the facility will bolster the Government’s quest to align the country’s science, technology and innovation ecosystem in a world where national and human development is driven by rapid changes in technology.
The centre will help students, academics and industry come up with various solutions to drive the country’s economic growth in line with National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) and Vision 2030
The Second Republic has stepped up efforts towards developing the country through innovation by constructing innovation hubs at universities.
The Technovation Centre will operate within the framework of research and implementation incubation centres.
Officiating at a ceremony to lay the foundation stone for the construction of the transformative technology and innovation centre at Nust yesterday, the President said technology was a vital cog in the realisation of sustainable socio-economic development.
The President noted that technology enhances the efficiency of resource utilisation, increases industrial output, delivery of quality services and improves food production.
“This facility will go a long way towards empowering our students to embrace an innovation mindset as well as facilitate the development of new technological products to answer our socio-economic needs. I therefore congratulate the National University of Science and Technology for setting up the Technovation Centre,” said President Mnangagwa.
“In light of this, the Technovation Centre must help empower our academics and students to develop cutting edge science, technology and innovation-based solutions to solve societal challenges and exploit opportunities which the economy has to offer.”
The President said it was his expectation that, as a centre of excellence, the Technovation Centre, together with the Innovation Hub, will propel the university’s technology-entrepreneurship curriculum and focus that seeks to transform students into job and wealth creators as envisaged under the Heritage-based Education 5.0 philosophy.
“Hence, new technologies, ideas and innovation solutions, which include the associated business models and concepts must be developed.
“This should see business, industries and communities leveraging on technology to improve on production, productivity and the quality of products and services,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said the Nust Technovation Centre will bolster the Government’s quest to strengthen, deepen and align the country’s science, technology and innovation ecosystem in a world where national and human development is being accompanied by rapid changes in technology.
President Mnangagwa said his Government will put in place the requisite infrastructure to enhance the use of technology to cut across all sectors of the economy and facets of life.
“This includes supporting technology infrastructure for value addition and beneficiation initiatives in agriculture, mining and manufacturing among other sectors of the economy. Our focus must never shy away from producing modern, quality, high tech ‘made in Zimbabwe’ goods and products,” he said.
“Ultimately, this must augment the import substitution drive and domestication of value chains as key pillars for the ongoing modernisation, industrialisation as well as growth of our economy.”
The President challenged Nust to move beyond the ‘piloting level’ in the use and application of technology, innovation and inventions. He said the university must seek to record new growth milestones through scaling up the deployment and use of science, technology and innovation across the economic spectrum, while also coming up with strategies to reduce the risk associated with rapid technological changes.
“This is more so as science, technology and innovation hold the promise of the future from climate change action, mitigation and adaptation, better service delivery and engendering an inclusive society. Let us as a nation, therefore, continue to harness the immense potential of and possibilities being ushered in by technology for common good, sector by sector, community by community and ultimately for the overall development of our beloved motherland, Zimbabwe,” he said.
“Going forward, I exhort the National University of Science and Technology to ramp up the discourse around how Zimbabwe can harness the positive impacts of the emerging frontiers of technology.”
He said emerging new fields such as big data analytics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and virtual augmented reality, among others, must be distilled to motivate more of the country’s young people to pursue learning pathways in these fields of the future.
“As you do, these must not only improve the quality of life of our citizenry, end hunger and diseases, help mitigate climate change as well as promoting equalised development, but also look beyond the modernisation and industrialisation of our country beyond 2030,” he said.
President Mnangagwa noted with sadness that despite Nust being the second university to be set up in the country after the University of Zimbabwe, some of the construction had stalled for years.
He, however, said under the Second Republic, the Government has provided financial support towards accelerating the completion of infrastructure projects at the university.
Unlike in the past few years when abandoned tower cranes hung rusting away above the incomplete structures, there is now progress on ground with artisans among them brick layers, welders and electricians busy working on the outstanding project.
Construction work at Nust had been stagnant for almost 18 years.
Nust is supposed to have 27 buildings, but only seven have been completed and some buildings are now dilapidated. However, just like other projects in the Matabeleland region that have been neglected for years, the Second Republic has committed resources towards completing them.
At the beginning of the year, the Government allocated $500 million for the construction of the students’ service centre and another $500 million for the library.
“It is pleasing that the Technovation Centre is situated in one of the previously stalled building projects whose completion is being accelerated. I want to commend the support and cooperation which other universities, colleges as well as stakeholders are rendering to Nust to quicken the pace of infrastructure growth within the institution,” said President Mnangagwa.
“This is the spirit of unity of purpose we must continue to nurture as one people and unitary State. In line with our philosophy, Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo, ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanikazi balo, from Plumtree to Mutare and from Zambezi to Limpopo, let us all build our country sector by sector, institution by institution, factory by factory, and business by business.”
The President said with great determination, unity, focus and hard honest work, nothing is impossible.
“Going forward, I challenge the Vice Chancellor Professor Dlodlo, university council, management as well as the entire staff to remain alive to the Second Republic’s work ethic and culture. Emphasis is on results and action, not excuses and complaints,” he said.
All citizens, said the President, have a duty to participate in the acceleration of the realisation of Vision 2030 and development that leaves no one and no place behind.
He pledged his commitment towards supporting Nust in its pursuit of various innovations, including boosting the use of renewable energy and increasing agriculture production and productivity.
President Mnangagwa commended Nust, Bulawayo Polytechnic College and the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, among other stakeholders for setting up the Bulawayo Technology Centre.
The centre has been equipped through the invaluable support of the Government of India.
The President said such partnerships are a testimony of the long standing and cordial relations that Zimbabwe and India continue to enjoy.
He said the facility will assist in creating wealth and empowering the youth and women as well as other vulnerable members of society.
The President implored Nust to continue playing a pivotal role in building science, technology and digital skills among other aspects to help the citizenry, commerce and industry to maximise on the benefits of the ongoing technological revolution.
President Mnangagwa, who had earlier capped more than 3 000 graduands during Nust’ 28th graduation ceremony, commended the university for introducing new degree programmes that are set to help address the national skills gaps identified in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics field.
He said the ongoing teacher capacitation development programme is also commendable as it enhances the teaching of sciences and domestication of national science, technology and innovation systems at the lower tiers of the country’s education sector.
“This will undoubtedly positively impact the nurturing of science, technology and innovation talent among our young boys and girls,” said President Mnangagwa.