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Our intellectual capital

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With Lorraine Lusinje:

The other day, I groaned about poor connectivity in the country and lamented the lack of improvement on the situation as it affects aspects of our personal and professional lives. At that moment, someone said something that resonated with me. He said: But you know, Malawians are out there, in other countries, working for the same industries that are failing here and they are making big things happen.

We all have friends and relatives who left the country to pursue further education and refuse to return. They will tell you frankly that they do not see themselves developing to the level they would like to develop to if they return. They will tell you their potential and newly gained skills will go to waste if they return. They will tell you that particular sectors in the country—be it information technology, engineering, medicine, journalism and communications, arts, sciences, research etc—have not developed to the level that can match their abilities.

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To others, this is usually defined as arrogance and lack of patriotism, but when you look at the number of people who graduated and are only making use of a quarter or half of the value of their qualifications and intellectual clout, you get to understand why others choose to settle in other countries. Truth of the matter is that, even right here at home, most graduates are not working with the challenges and innovations they should be.

University entities like The Polytechnic and College of Medicine needed to be at the forefront of innovations that aid various sectors in the country. When institutions like Escom, water boards, hospitals and others face challenges and limitations, these university entities or their graduates were supposed to be spearheading modern innovations, workable solutions and intellectual discourse that support progression.

It is really a shame that we have huge intellectual capacity that we are failing to harness. We, as a country, seem to be painfully progression-adverse. We fancy other countries that are developed but we forget that they did not get where there by a magic wand. It took effort and making complete use of available resources—human, natural, technological and financial. This is something we have a problem doing on this corner of the globe; instead, we are very good at mismanaging, misusing and misappropriating everything – the headlines will bear witness every other day.

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Lack of implementation acumen and the rise of corruption are the serious vices that are affecting the workforce capacity in the country. People would rather use shortcuts, sabotage projects and use shady means to operate and acquire everything and anything. The number of projects that have not materialised in the country are numerous, yet these are the platforms for intellectual capital to manifest itself; in the energy sector, the trade sector, the agriculture sector, the medical sector, the tourism sector and the list is endless.

We should be willing to take different approaches to make things happen. People in the country are change-resistant so much that they resist change even when we do not know why they are resisting, they resist for the sake of resisting, they fight with the authorities for the sake of resisting and they ignore new laws and policies for the sake of resisting even if their lives and safety depend on it.

Many a time, institutions and law enforcers have come to be victims of violent protests and vandal ism for enforcing changes in various communities. We resist change by damaging infrastructure we need ourselves and derailing plans that will be for our own benefit; destroying the very gateways for manifestation of intellectual capital that would have come into play to develop the country.

Malawi is a pool filled with wasted intellectual capital. When are we planning to wake up from this retrogressive slumber?

I rest my case.

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