Malawi’s Vice-President, Dr. Saulos Chilima, has challenged researchers in the country to develop homegrown innovations and technologies to achieve the new vision of inclusive wealth creation and self-reliance.
Chilima, who is also Minister of Economic Planning & Development, and Public Sector Reforms, made the call on Wednesday when he officially opened the 3rd National Innovations and Research Dissemination Conference in Mangochi.
The Vice-President said the vision’s three pillars of agriculture productivity and commercialization, industrialisation and urbanization will revolve around homegrown innovations and technologies.
“I would like to challenge all researchers in this country to think big and think local. Government, on its part, stands ready to support their efforts.
“We need to harness our home-grown solutions for the advancement of our economy and promote a good quality of life for all,” said Chilima.
He noted that the existing socio-economic development gap between countries of the global north and south is partly a reflection of the gap in research, science, technology and innovation.
The Vice-President therefore, said as a country, there is need to collectively challenge the divide and actively seek new and innovative sources of socio-economic growth and development by looking within.
“Time has now come that our research institutions must not just be on the receiving end of foreign-driven research agendas,” said Chilima, adding: “Malawi is not an experimenting lab. We must develop our own national research agenda based on our challenges.”
The Vice-President also urged the researchers to take time to review the research results and how they can be utilized in the country’s development agenda rather than just being obsessed with researching and publishing.
He further said President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, remains committed to supporting research, science, technology and innovation and that government will ensure that resources allocated towards research and development are increased.
National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) Board Chairperson, Professor Emmanuel Kaunda, concurred with the Vice-President.
However, he called for support, saying “effective research requires significant investment by government and private sector”.
National Planning Commission Director General, Dr. Thomas Munthali, called upon researchers to “move fast and invest in innovation and technology” to catch up with the changing world.
Prior to the main opening event, Chilima toured some innovations in the areas of mining, health, clean and renewable energy and other technologies, which were displayed outside the conference room.
This year’s conference is held under the theme: Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship towards Productive and Resilient Nation.