13 December 2012

Tanzania: Kikwete Throws Weight On Research

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete reiterated the need to invest in research and development to speed up sustainable economic growth.

Mr Kikwete made the remarks at a two-day symposium jointly organised by the Department of Economics of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and the Mwalimu Nyerere Chair in Development. The theme of the meeting is "Enhancing Human Capital and Productivity for Faster Development in Tanzania."

"Investment in research and development is inevitable for any country to attain economic growth and that is why my government has initiated efforts to ensure that Tanzania invests heavily in research," Mr Kikwete said.

Mr Kikwete also urged higher learning institutions, particularly those dealing directly with research, to ensure that they train young Tanzanians and create a pool of researchers that the country can depend on for development.

"Public research institutions as well as the Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) should ensure that the country has enough research scientists as it is the case in the developed countries," Mr Kikwete said. The Director General of COSTECH, Dr Hassan Mshinda, in his reaction, said the commission has so far offered scholarships for about 300 students to undertake further studies in research, stressing that the doors were still open for others to train more researches.

Meanwhile, President Kikwete said the shortage of teachers that currently faces some parts of the country would become history within the next few years. "In fact, by 2020 I am optimistic that we will have more than enough teachers. At that time it will be something normal for graduate teachers to teach at primary schools since there will be quite a lot of graduates in the labour market," he boasted.

He also expressed concern over the largest employer in Tanzania, the agriculture sector, saying it has failed to lift majority of farmers out of poverty due to low productivity. "About 75 per cent of seeds used in the country are imported which may not be suitable for our soils and environment, it is high time we develop our own seeds and this will likely improve productivity," he noted.

Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of UDSM, Prof Rwekaza Mukandala, said the varsity seeks to remain a centre for intellectual wealth in future for spearheading Tanzania's quest for development. "It is within this context that the UDSM established the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Professorial Chair in Development to harness, sharpen and deepen our understanding in this critical area.

"Such knowledge, we hope, must impact in a meaningful way on our country's development efforts," Prof Mukandala said. Prof Delphin Rwegasira of the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Chair in Development said the Nyerere chairs are mainly aimed to support high quality research that is beneficial to the institution and the public as a whole.

"The other objective is to motivate and retain high calibre scholars and thus raising the intellectual profile of the varsity, in addition to mobilization of resources to support related research and capacity building," Prof Rwegasira said.

He noted that the orientation of the work of the Mwalimu Nyerere Chair in Development has in part been influenced by the history of Mwalimu Nyerere's efforts towards development. Thus, the specific research of the Chair is substantially motivated by the quest for accelerated economic growth and rapid reduction of poverty, according to the don.

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