By Emmanuel Simpokolwe
The National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) has said financing science, technology and innovation will help the country become a knowledge-based and technologically-led economy by 2063.
NCST Board Chairperson Emmanuel Kaunda said science, technology and innovation are highlighted in Malawi 2063 as a critical component of both the second pillar of industrialisation and the fifth enabler of human capital development.
Kaunda said this on Wednesday during the launch of the operationalisation of the science and technology fund in Lilongwe.
“The main aim for the fund is to provide an avenue of direct investment in the science and technology sector in Malawi,” he said.
Since the inception of the commission in 2010, the fund has not been operational due to lack of funds.
He said science, technology and innovation is an important ingredient of a knowledge economy and is a driver of productivity, competitiveness, economic growth and wealth creation.
Kaunda said the challenge for developing countries like Malawi has been inadequate investment in scientific research and development.
He said the entire sub-Saharan African region spends less than one percent of the global expenditure on research and development compared to the Caribbean, which accounts for about three percent, while Europe is at 27 percent, Asia 31 percent and North America 37 percent.
Malawi has a lower research and development intensity as evidenced by the devotion of 0.15 percent of its gross domestic product towards research and development spending in 2019.
“Such a low investment in research and development has resulted in corresponding low generation of technology and innovation for socio-economic development,” Kaunda said.
Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje said the establishment of the Science and Technology Fund represents a long-awaited start to the strategic financing of Malawi’s own science, technology research and innovation for development.
“This will lead to new businesses, highly skilled and well-paid jobs and will contribute to the success of Malawi 2063,” NyaLonje said.
“In the long term, we also look forward to the creation of a National Science Park that will house state-of-the-art laboratories, innovation hubs, science museums and centres of excellence,” she added.
She said the park would be a place where scientists, researchers, inventors, innovators, developers and entrepreneurs could come together and develop ground-breaking and path-finding technologies to support industrialisation drive.
The newly launched fund will provide a pool wherein investors, development partners and the government can combine resources that can be channeled to the development of the science and technology sector in Malawi in a more organised manner.