The Minister of Education Madalitso Kambauwa-Wirima says Malawi needs to embrace and integrate research, science, technology and innovation in its development planning and the transformative process if the country is to attain its developmental aspirations.
Kambauwa-Wirima made the remarks in Lilongwe at the launch of the the first-ever National Research Agenda for Malawi, which is part of Government efforts towards operationalizing the Malawi 2063 First 10-Year Implementation Plan (MIP-1).
The development of the research agenda embraced a highly consultative process involving all key players in the research and innovation ecosystem including universities, public research organizations, think-tanks, private sector organisations, business enterprises, government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and non-state actors.
Kambauwa-Wirima observed that the divide between the global north and global south in the attainment of development and economic transformation is a result of failure by global south to invest in research and development and science, technology and innovation.
“As a country, therefore, we need to put in place ways of arresting this divide. The launch of the National Research Agenda today is, thus, a positive step towards narrowing this research and development expenditure gap if are to attain an inclusively wealthy and lower middle income status by 2030,” she said.
The minister said she was particularly pleased to note that the themes and priority areas of the agenda are organised according to MW2063 pillars and enablers, which include Agricultural Productivity and Commercialisation; Industrialisation, Urbanisation, Mindset Change; Effective Governance Systems and Institutions; Enhanced Public Sector Performance; Economic Infrastructure; Human Capital Development; Private Sector Dynamism; and Environmental Sustainability.
She said the rationale for this approach is to ensure that Malawi’s research, science, technology and innovation interventions are locally driven to solve socio-economic development challenges.
“The NRA will prioritise activities that are critical to achieve the desired transformation of the Malawi economy through R&D investments and has been framed by the Malawian Research Ecosystem consultatively to solve locally demand driven challenges. I therefore direct NCST to immediately put up a Research Call through the NRA that will solve negative effects of CYCLONE FREDDY using available resources in the Science and Technology Fund.
“In addition, I encourage youth and Early Career Researchers (ECR) to respond to the Call that will evoke the application of Predictive Artificial Intelligence (AI) to project occurrence of these natural disasters and help improve preparedness to such catastrophic phenomena. I call upon all well-wishing organisations to support NCST in its quest to provide solutions through Science, Technology and Innovation,” said Kambauwa-Wirima.
NCST Acting Director General Gift Kadzamira said the agenda will guide researchers, academic institutions, centres of excellence, local and foreign research and development stakeholders in generating knowledge, technologies and innovations that will build a knowledge based economy from Malawi towards inclusive wealth creation and self-reliance.
Kadzamira added that with the agenda in place, Malawi will have coordinated research areas and outputs.
“Agenda being launched is the perfect roadmap, if not the vehicle itself, to lead the nation to its longed success. The agenda, if well popularized, as expected, will help drive the nail home in terms of why the sector is actually the key to the growth of any serious national economy,” he said.