What does the MCTESTP face in the coming five years?
The MCTESTP aims to take a new approach to the integration of technical and vocational education, higher education, scientific research, innovation, and technological development in an articulated, hierarchical system designed to catalyze the development of Mozambique through the injection of knowledge, technology, and quality human resources. This is needed to reach the best possible performance in the various socio-economic development sectors. We plan to create a situation in which technical and vocational education can train highly skilled labor for the productive sector, ensuring quality services and the retention of income in the country, which would otherwise be paid to foreign workers. We also want to enable graduates with know-how to improve their employability, and offer higher education to students with higher academic potential. In terms of higher education, we aim to utilize the knowledge of experts and the people at those academic levels to produce solutions to the problems that our country faces. We want to provide highly qualified technical teachers capable of transmitting the scientific and technical foundations necessary for the graduates to interpret and solve problems related to their training areas, as well as to support research institutions and researchers committed to the cause of national development. In the field of scientific research we want to identify the main challenges faced by the Mozambican nation not only in terms of the economy and environment, but also regarding social issues. We want to seek solutions on a participatory basis, listening to the communities and the productive sector in order to find relevant and acceptable solutions for society and to translate the results of scientific activity into useful products and services. We need to produce information that can be used for planning, analysis and decision-making at different levels of government.
How would you describe the existing infrastructure dedicated to science and technology in Mozambique? What investments are necessary to meet your medium-term goals and objectives?
All Mozambicans should have access to scientific and information technology to improve the wealth creation process and accelerate poverty eradication. Infrastructure is a key component for scientific research, technology transfer, and innovation. Although Mozambique lacks the resources to carry out major investments to this end, it does have infrastructure for conducting science and technology activities. Among those we can mention are higher education institutions and research centers situated across the country such as the Institute of Agricultural Research of Mozambique (IIAM), the Health Research Centre of Manhica (CISM), the National Institute of Health (NIH), the Fisheries Research Institute (IIP), the Centre for Research and Development on Ethnobotany (CIDE), the Institute for Water Research (IIA), the Biotechnology Centre of the Eduardo Mondlane University, the Polytechnic Institutes of Gaza, Manica, Tete and Zambezia, the Biotechnology Laboratory in the city of Xai-Xai, and the Centre for Research and Transferring of Agricultural Technologies of Umbelúze (CITTAU). We also have seven Millennium Villages, with two each in Gaza, Zambezia, and Nampula, and one in Tete, as well as the Science and Technology Park in Maluana (PCTM), which was created for the training and incubation of technology-based companies. We have also established five centers for working on technology for the improvement of rice, corn, and wheat production in the provinces of Gaza, Sofala, Manica, and Tete. Finally there is the Higher Education and Research Network of Mozambique (MoRENet) and the Maluana Data Center at the Science and Technology Park of Maluana.
What are the main opportunities for investment in the Science and Technology Sector at present, and how do you plan to attract domestic and foreign investment into this field?
In the area of Science and Technology there are six centers of research for the transferal of agricultural technologies located in Gaza, Sofala, Manica, Tete, and Nampula. There are also the data centers at the Science and Technology Park of Maluana and Nampula, which is currently seeking funding, will benefit both public and private institutions, and will contribute to the improvement of service delivery to citizens. The government will also build around 25 community multimedia centers (CMC) to increase internet access across the country, in addition to linking all higher education and research facilities to the Higher Education Network and Research of Mozambique (MoRENet). This will establish virtual libraries, which will contribute to improving research conditions and the teaching and learning process. Two new Higher Polytechnic Institutes in Inhambane and Nampula provinces are being worked on to expand higher education, and we will also pay increased attention to the psycho-pedagogical training of teachers, combined with various postgraduate training programs. The Institutional Development Fund (IDF) will finance over 76 training projects at the Higher Education Institutions (HIES), and we will provide scholarships at the undergraduate level to around 2,500 students from all provinces. In addition, 20 IES and over 100 courses for accreditation will be assessed as part of efforts to improve the quality of higher education in the country. Within five years we also expect to build, rehabilitate, and equip 38 institutions for technical and vocational education throughout the country, and are looking to increase school enrolments from the current figure of 67,000 students to over 80,000. Under the ETP reform we will approve legal instruments and an institutional framework for the implementation of vocational education law.
What role would you like the Ministry to play in the establishment of innovative technology start-ups in the country?
The MCTESTP should continue to promote initiatives aimed at the creation of a favorable environment for the emergence and development of new technology-based companies. We want to strengthen their ability to undertake scientific research, to foster innovation and technological development, and to encourage scientific entrepreneurship with a view to exploring new ideas.
How can your Ministry bring science and technology to rural communities?
All initiatives undertaken by the government should focus on improving the quality of life of Mozambicans, and special attention should be paid to the poorest people, most of whom live in rural areas. The Ministry can approach rural communities through the dissemination and popularization of science and technology, at fair trades and bazaars of science and technology, science competitions, and the dissemination of knowledge and local expertise through ICT initiatives.
How would you characterize the importance of research and innovation for the future of developing countries?
Scientific research is important for the development of any country, and is necessary to contribute to problem solving in various sectors such as agriculture (through improved manufacturing techniques for increasing productivity), health (through studies for introducing vaccines for fighting malaria), or the environment (in impact studies of climate change and improving sanitation), among others. Four main factors are necessary to carry out effective research, and the first is the training of human resources. Between 2015 and 2019, the Ministry will focus on training of researchers and the faculty of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) by granting postgraduate scholarships to strengthen the implementation capacity of research to contribute effectively to the country's development and the improvement higher education studies. In Mozambique there are few companies that invest in innovation to create more competition and subsequently aggregate economic value to their products and increase profits. In order to stimulate research and innovation for development, the Ministry will proceed with the creation of an incentive framework for research and development of businesses both large and small.