Speech: The Joint IST–Africa, Caast-Net Plus, And Horizon 2020 Workshop

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Speech Delivered By The Director General Of National Commission For Science And Technology, Mr. Anthony Muyepa At The Joint IST –Africa, Caast-Net Plus, And Horizon 2020 Workshop, Friday 24th January, 2014       

Salutations

The Guest of Honour, Dr. Lucious Kanyumba, Minister of Education, Science and Technology;

Stephen Hogan; Counsellor for Research & Innovation, Delegation of the European Union to the African Union;

Paul Cunningham and Miriam Cunningham; IST Africa Initiative Partners from IIMC  Ltd;   Ireland;

Mellisah Plath and Constantine Vaitsas from CAASTNet Plus;

Master of Ceremony, Catherine Chaweza, the Chairman of the Workshop Organising Committee and Your Committee Members;

Distinguished invited guests;

Members of the press;

Ladies and Gentlemen.

 It gives me great pleasure this morning to address this distinguished gathering of delegates comprising researchers, practitioners and policy makers who have come to Malawi to discuss issues pertaining to Information Societies and Technologies. Firstly, I would like to join the Master of Ceremony in welcoming you all to this important workshop. You have all travelled from your institutions of repute in research, science and technology both from within and outside Malawi. Your presence at this workshop is a clear manifestation of the importance your institutions attach to Science and Technologies for social and economic development. While I thank you all delegates for coming to this workshop, I would like to particularly thank The Guest of Honour, Honourable Dr. Lucious Kanyumba, Minister of Education, Science and Technology,  for blessing this workshop. Your positive response to our invitation will ever remain appreciably high.  I must say, I am very happy to have you as part of this important forum this morning. Much as you do have busy schedules, the fact that you are here today demonstrates the commitment of the Malawi government and your personal resolve to support development that is driven by science and technology but also paying attention to emerging issues such as International innovation, Research and Policy Coorporation, knowledge sharing and skills transfer between partners.

I therefore I sincerely thank you for taking your time to come and be part of this forum this morning.

To our international partners, You are, most welcome to Malawi and enjoy our traditional food. We boast of a delicious fish species called Chambo. Do not return home without tasting it.

 The Guest of Honour , Director of Ceremonies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, this workshop has been organized with a purpose of raising awareness among stakeholders involved in research, in the areas of Information & Communication Technology (ICT), Health, Agriculture and Environment, with a view to exploring opportunities for international research collaboration under Horizon 2020.

Our participation in this workshop and consequently hosting this workshop by the Commission is in tandem with the Commission’s legal mandate which is “to promote, support, co-ordinate and regulate the development and application of research, science and technology”. Therefore, when the leadership of the IST Africa and Horizon 2020, approached the Commission with a request to host this workshop, the Commission did not hesitate to accept it.

IST-Africa facilitates and supports

  • International Innovation, Research and Policy Cooperation, both between Africa and Europe and within Africa
  • Knowledge sharing and Skills Transfer between IST-Africa Partners
  • Collaborative Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Adoption of Living Labs
  • Information Society, ICT and Innovation aspects of the Africa – EU Strategic Partnership

NCST became the IST-Africa National Partner for Malawi in 2011, and since then Malawi has benefited greatly from this collaboration. NCST leverages its membership of IST-Africa to actively promote the Malawi National Research Community through

  • Presentations at International events
  • Publishing a chapter on Malawi as part of the overall IST-Africa Study on ICT Initiatives and Research capacity
  • Publishing a chapter on Innovation Spaces and Living Labs in Malawi as part of overall IST-Africa Study on Innovation ecosystem
  • Publishing articles on ongoing and emerging ICT and Innovation activities in Malawi on the IST-Africa portal and in the Newsletter
  • Raising awareness of upcoming Calls for Proposals and international funding opportunities
  • Assists institutions in preparing for new opportunities such as Horizon 2020
  • Raises awareness of activities being undertaken in other African countries
  • Supporting the publishing of Organisational profiles on IST-Africa portal to raise awareness of activities in wider community
  • Access to IST-Africa Network including Ministries and National Councils in 17 African Countries to share knowledge, experiences and success stories
  • First-hand experience of what is involved in being part of International funded activities under the European Framework Programme
  • NCST has sponsored Malawian researchers to present their results at annual IST-Africa conferences

CAAST-Net Plus is a network that advances bi-regional research and innovation cooperation between Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. Building on the results of CAAST-Net, the network is funded for 2013 – 2016 by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme. For more information, please visit www.caast-net-plus.org

NCST became a partner in CAAST-Net Plus in 2013 and as a member of CAAST-Net Plus Consortium and as a Beneficiary partner in CAAST-Net, the National Commission for Science and Technology recently hosted a SADC regional workshop on Climate Change Adaptation Research in Agriculture in Lilongwe in December 2013.  While this time we are looking at building EU-Africa research partnerships

Horizon 2020 is the new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation that runs from January 2014 to 2020.

Horizon 2020 offers public, private, education and research organisations  involved in research and innovation activities the opportunity to compete for funding as part of international consortia.

The purpose of this workshop is to raise awareness among stakeholders involved in research in the areas of ICT, Health, Agriculture, and Environment of the potential for international research collaboration under Horizon 2020.

This purpose, our guest of honor, Ladies and Gentlemen, are within the sphere of recognition and emphasis of the Government of Malawi in as far as achieving social economic development through IST is concerned.

Ladies and gentlemen we’re aware of the current challenges facing the whole population which have grown to exploding scales, particularly in sub Saharan Africa. Relying on traditional ways of doing things will not meet the ever increasing demand. Therefore rather than concentrating on traditional ways, new approaches using ICT are offering very promising alternative ways based on innovative ways. ICT tools have come handy in this respect. The government of Malawi is putting a great emphasis on the development of and application of ICT in all sectors of the economy and we are aware that there is no better way of exploiting this than focusing on education and research as the central position for this region. The government of Malawi is providing a particular preferential ICT support at all levels of education system. A significant support is going to the high learning institutions. We intend to make ICT not just a course to be studied, but we intend to make it as tool to make teaching and learning smarter and tool to deliver good service to our people. For this reason, the government of Malawi, through the Africaconnect project  is investing in the provision of sufficient bandwidth to all public universities including research and education institutions to enhance the teaching, learning and research efforts. The optic grid infrastructure will establish a high-capacity Internet network for research and education to provide the country with a gateway to global research collaboration. Therefore we hope and expect that the e-corporation between researchers, both local and international will bear the desired fruits. Am happy that this workshop will provide secure and efficient ways of supporting the e-corporation among global players at which point we are very grateful to the EU support which is enabling this Euro-Africa corporation in areas of research possible.

The EU-Africa corporation is providing opportunities to exchange experiences and to share knowledge between the partners.  I think this is an important opportunity. Malawi like many other countries is facing constraints in terms of funding research. The challenges that Malawi is dealing with are similar across the borders and solutions to address these problems will require collaborative research and partnerships across borders. Cross border research requires special attention and focus in the 21st century. In this part of Africa, many of the boarders were unilaterally decided by our colonial masters, and the challenges that we face across borders are not unique and require cross border solutions based on cross border research.

As NCST, we would like to establish cross boarder partnerships as well as international partnerships in research. The motivation is not only money, the primary benefit is that of exchange of knowledge and expertise, and gaining confidence in international dimension and have the capacity to support people in their communities, and find solutions to the challenges in their communities.

One area that needs support and linkage is that of innovation entrepreneurship. This is one area that Malawi as a partner stands to benefit from the Horizon 2020 framework program which funds research and innovations. Innovation and entrepreneurship can become an economic pillar in addition to the agriculture, mining and tourism. As NCST we would like to partner with international communities to facilitate establishment of  innovation spaces, or incubators, accelerators as a way of diversifying and moving away from tobacco. In other countries universities are hosting innovations spaces. We need to make opportunities for self-employment. We have high rates of unemployment of our graduates. We need to build indigenous SME around innovation and research. Let’s do career structures for these individuals, if someone does a PHD, they don’t necessarily take research as a career, they just either become lectures, or senior lectures, and that’s where it ends. Whereas if you want to do proper research, you need much more support and partnerships.  What NCST would like to see is an opportunity to leverage some of the experiences from Europe based on collaborative research and adapting those lessons to the Malawian context. The EU-Africa research partnership promises to be the platform to build the much needed capacity for our researchers to  bring about and accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship in Malawi.

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, I now have the pleasure to invite The Guest of Honour, Honourable Dr. Lucious Kanyumba, Minister of Education, Science and Technology to address us and officially open the workshop,

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, the minister of Science and Technolgy

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