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Focusing on science, tech and innovation for economic growth

SCIENCE, Technology and Innovation (STI) have been increasingly looked upon by many countries, particularly the so-called developing countries, as the most important and powerful instruments for bringing about extensive economic growth.

Investment in research, science, technology and innovation will be a key factor in government’s transformation into a knowledge-based economy and to achieve industrialization policy.

In a three day national annual Science, Technology and Innovation conference and exhibition held in Dar es Salaam recently aimed at discussing and sharing experience on how STI would help to achieve the industrialisation policy, the forum became a platform to improve the contribution of STI in development.

“Without leveraging science and technology, development is an exercise in futility,” said Minister of Education, Science and Technology Prof Joyce Ndalichako. She noted that since science and technology are a pre-requisite to development, the government and various stakeholders have to anchor them into their development frameworks.

She urged researchers to use the conference as an opportunity to discuss the research results that have been generated throughout the year and how they can influence increased production and increased farmer’s income. We want to see how science, technology and innovation can bring development in our country,” Prof Ndalichako told participants.

The minister said that the government through Tanzania Commission foe Science and Technology (COSTECH) has always ensured that researchers and innovators benefit from their innovation, a move that would help in the development of national economy.

“I would like to affirm the commitment of the government to supporting research and innovation. I would like to assure you (researchers) that the government recognizes your contribution in science, technology and innovation,” Prof Ndalichako said.

Prof Ndalichako pointed out that in additional to the cordial support from development partners, the government will continue to support the use of science, technology and innovation in order to promote industrialization and competitiveness by allocating sufficient funds in order to attain middle-income economy by 2025.

The annual STI conference that organized by Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology through the support from Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) has brought together researchers and scientists from research and development institutions, academic institutions as well as grassroots innovators, entrepreneurs and other individuals.

The exhibition and conference aimed at showcasing products and services which directly contribute to industrialisation. In order to link with industrial development, the conference also had one highlighting of innovation session, whereby researcher’s technology developers and innovators got the opportunity to showcase their technology development pathways.

Prof Ndalichako added that for this financial year 2018/19, the government has allocated 8 billion to support research activities, arguing COSTECH to use the funds for intended purposes and ensure that the research output reach targeted individuals or institutions.

She said the government uses a lot of taxpayers’ money as well as donor funds to fund research activities, calling upon scientists and researchers to ensure their research activities focus in providing solutions to societal problems and make impacts at the grassroots.

The minister said the Second Five-Year Development Plan acknowledges that reaching advanced level of inclusive and sustainable industrial development requires conscious efforts to sustain growth, promote social inclusiveness and move towards a greener structural transformation, as well as managing the trade-offs between them.

This can be attained only with accumulation of internal sciences, technology and innovation capabilities. Acting Director General of COSTECH Dr Amos Nungu said one of the objectives of the commission is to advice the Government on all matters relating to science and technology including but not limited to the formulation of ST policy, priority setting for R&D, allocation and utilization of resources.

Dr Nungu added that the commission has been supporting national stakeholders to achieve these objectives through targeted activities. Aimed at developing capacities for innovation systems management, strengthening research and development.

Harnessing the potential of STI for improving development outcomes, and promoting the opportunities and contributions of women and young people in the sciences.

“We expect the conference would come up with ideals and recommendations on how to achieve the industrialization agenda through science, Technology and innovation. We believe that by collaborating with various stakeholders’ science and technology will be promoted and used to Tanzanian to improve their lives and incomes,” Dr Nungu explained.

He further explained that the commission has to promote, coordinate, monitor and evaluate scientific research and technology development and technology transfer activities in the country, to facilitate national, regional and international cooperation in scientific research and technology development and transfer.

The participants has recommended to the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology to award young scientists who have an outstanding work as a means to motivate them. They also advice commission to ensure that the research work which have shown promising results should be considered for up scaling.

The participants recommended that COSTECH should come up with best model of supporting and promotion of incubator programme and to find a strategy on how to take on board the private sector/industry to support research in the country.

COSTECH should develop a technology catalogue (technology map) to map type, use of a particular technology for easy accessibility, and reduce duplication, Government to increase innovation funds for the technical institutions.

COSTECH to think of publishing full papers from the paper presented from this conference, Involvement, integration of the industry in shaping the training systems ending up with production of irrelevant and substandard workforce.

“Science has a critical role to play in helping societies understand why we have these problems and are looking to science for possible solutions,” Yet if science is to have this transformative power and deliver real social goods it also has to help deliver a more equal society, said Deputy permanent Secretary in the ministry of Education Prof James Mdoe.

Prof Mdoe who was speaking during the closing of the conference said the government was looking forward to ensuring science and technology would help promote the goals of Tanzania being middle economy country.

The Deputy PS said before the end of 2018/19 financial year the government has ensure new science and technology policy would be out to enhance development of the national through the sector. “The new policy will become the solution in addressing society problems particularly in science, technology and innovation.

Scientists should use science and technology to ensure society develops and meet their daily requirements. Prof Mdoe added that Science and innovation should help societies tackle the problems of social inequality.

The sector should promote and developed to ensure the national achieve industrialization policy. He said that the existing policies and laws do not talk on innovation and that the aim now is to have one that will put emphasis on innovation for the country’s economic development.

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Author: FATMA ABDU

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