ALL THE RIGHT MOMENTUM

Mozambique 2016 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Hon. Jorge Olívio Penicela Nhambiu, Minister of Science and Technology, Higher and Technical Vocational Education (MCTESTP), on bringing science and technology to rural areas and increasing research in the country.

Hon. Jorge Olívio Penicela Nhambiu
BIOGRAPHY
Hon. Jorge Olívio Penicela Nhambiu was born on September 11, 1963. From 1973-1982, he assisted at the Escola Correia da Silva, Escola General Joaquim José Machado, and Escola Industrial 1º de Maio in Maputo, before joining the Instituto Pedagógico Industrial de Nampula. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) in Mozambique and a master’s degree in the same field from the Universidade de Brasília in Brazil. In 2004, he completed his PhD in energy and environmental studies at the Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, in Portugal.

What is in store for the MCTESTP 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 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 knowhow to improve their employability and offer higher education to students with higher academic potential.

What investments would be necessary to meet your medium-term goals and objectives for science and technology?

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), and the Fisheries Research Institute (IIP). We have also established five centers for working on technology that will improve rice, corn, and wheat production in the provinces of Gaza, Sofala, Manica, and Tete.

What role would you like the ministry to play in establishing innovative technology start-ups?

The MCTESTP should continue to promote initiatives aimed at creating 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 the 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. Four main factors are necessary to carry out effective research, and the first is training human resources. Between 2015-2019, the ministry will focus on training researchers and the faculty of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) by granting postgraduate scholarships to strengthen the 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.