The future is tech: President

Farirai Machivenyika  Senior Reporter

President Mnangagwa yesterday challenged the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) and other local universities to become centres of economic revival leveraging on technology.

He said it was important that Zimbabwe was not left out in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which has become central to economic growth in most parts of the world.

The President said this in his acceptance speech after being conferred with an honorary Doctorate of Technology Degree (Honoris Causa) during HIT’s 10th graduation ceremony yesterday.

“As the world rapidly moves into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, my Government has noted how technology is affecting and redefining cultural, economic, social and human endeavours,” said President Mnangagwa.

“This is the foundation upon which global economic giants are emerging and we should not be left behind.

“As such, I charge universities to champion economic growth through production of relevant and innovative intellectual property which can be commercialised,” he said.

He challenged HIT to use its mandate to develop in various technological fields such as “nanotechnology, Big data, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and bioinformatics”, among others.

“You, as the premier tech-institution in our country must not shy away from embracing mega trends which will leap forward our modernisation and industrialisation agenda.

“Innovations from this institution must have radical impacts and make our country a front runner in new innovations and technologies in the various aspects of our economy,” he added.

President Mnangagwa rallied HIT to lead the country in its quest for economic transformation through import substitution, reverse engineering as well as the production of software and business applications.

“I further commend and congratulate you for providing solutions such as the ERP software being used by some Rural District Councils in the country.

“The Tap and Go application developed for Zupco as well as the manufacturing of transformers by this institution, will undoubtedly go a long way towards transforming our transport and energy sectors.

“You are indeed in sync with your motto, ‘Designing the Future’,” said President Mnangagwa.

He implored HIT to promote national self-reliance in strategic skills development that would enhance beneficiation of the country’s natural resources.

“You must thus, continue working towards the establishment of a fully-fledged science industrial park and the Export Processing Zone, to explore new frontiers of knowledge in the 4th Industrial Revolution.

“I also urge you to also ensure that your technopreneurship thrust is broadened to hatch and incubate hi-tech SMEs as well as move the nation towards the comprehensive adoption of ICTs across all facets,” he said.

HIT Vice Chancellor Engineer Quinton Kanhukwame said the President was honoured for his efforts in the development of the country through technological advancement.

“His Excellency and President, Cde Mnangagwa has demonstrated the tenacity of focus on the economic development of this country that is premised on the conviction that Zimbabwe can be catapulted to the upper middle income economy by 2030 through heritage based technological advancement,” said Eng Kanhukamwe. “The decades of experience in the administration of the affairs of the State in different portfolios under his belt, have helped to shape his clarity of vision and the huge strides he is taking to transform Zimbabwe into a prosperous and modern economy.

“Under the President’s tutelage, universities now play a critical role in the scientific and technological advancement of the nation. He recognised that universities are central to industrialisation and modernisation of the country.”

President Mnangagwa yesterday capped 506 students at HIT, including 197 females.

Eng Kanhukamwe said HIT has heeded the call to review its curriculum in line with the country’s needs.

“Education 5.0 is well situated within our programme frameworks as we escalate the development and commercialisation of technological solutions that are responsive and address national needs,” he said.

HIT has introduced new postgraduate degree programmes that include Master of Technology in Machine Design, Master of Technology in Cloud Computing, Master of Technology in Strategy and Innovation, Master of Technology in Information Technology, Postgraduate Diploma in Medical Ultrasound and Postgraduate Diploma in Medical Dosimetry.

“These programmes respond to national and strategic priority areas and are aimed at providing practical hands-on technological expertise to industry and commerce and the health sectors of our economy,” he added.

Eng Kanhukamwe said the institution’s research projects were aimed at making contributions to national development.

“In the context of the obtaining temporary economic challenges, we have absolute conviction that this is the time to proffer home grown solutions responsive to the needs of the various sectors of our economy,” he said.

Some of the projects undertaken this academic year include an application of dry or fine grinding as an optimisation tool for gold recovery process by small-scale miners, flyash brick machine project, propagation and characterisation of indigenous plant resources for value addition and production of pharmaceutical products, food products and biochemical inputs.

HIT places a high premium to intellectual property registration, and has registered seven patents, 39 utility models, eight industrial designs and 33 copyrights.

Through its Technology Transfer and Commercialisation Centre, HIT has established four start-ups, which emanated from the commercialisation of our intellectual property.

These are Indocast which deals with refractory materials, ferrous and non-ferrous casting and fabrication, Gensys which is into transformer production, Matsimba that is into production of fuel tracking system and fleet management and Instibytes, which is into the design of software application packages.

HIT continues to seek collaborations with local and international institutions that include Soonsil University of South Korea, Indian Institute of Technology and the Turkish Government, which has funded the first phase of the establishment of the digital forensic laboratory at the institution.