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Research must be more relevant, says Engineering body

A NATIONAL research agenda has been proposed to address weak linkages between industry, science and technology that are undermining the development of businesses in the country, the Engineering Institution of Zambia (EIZ) has said.
Making submissions before the Parliamentary Committee on Education, Science and Technology recently, EIZ vice-president for policy, public relations and national development Evans Mauta said Government should establish a national research agenda to help guard against conducting studies that are not aligned to socio-economic needs.
He suggested that Government should fund research that provides a platform that will allow local experts to find home-grown solutions that can provide avenues for commercial success.
Mr Mauta said technology is important in helping generate new ideas that are required to develop new products, processes or services that can lead to wealth creation.
“The National Science and Technology Centre controls [the operations of] the National Research Fund which draws its finances from the national budget to fund research and development projects selected using a peer-review system.
“However, release of the allocated funds has not been consistent resulting in erratic implementation,” he said, “And without the participation of the private sector in this process, research and development efforts of the nation to remain separated from the needs of the industrial sector.”
Mr Mauta also said that poor infrastructure in institutions that offer science and technology programmes is one of the challenges faced by universities to further improve the capacity of emerging scientists and engineers.
“Universities that engage in research at this level will produce human capital with the capability not only to conduct basic research, but also to conduct applied research and development, and this is also crucial in building the country’s science, technology and innovation capacity,” he said.