AN industrial park established by Midlands State University (MSU) in Gweru was yesterday commissioned by President Mnangagwa, who reiterated the need for all institutions of higher and tertiary education, science and technology to move into such ventures to help achieve the Second Republic’s vision of growing the economy.
The industrial park is a growth of MSU’s Innovation Hub and employs over 100 people in a textiles enterprise, chemicals production and the manufacture of face masks and hand sanitisers in the wake of Covid-19, with more industries in the pipeline.
The industrial park has developed road surfacing material, for which MSU holds a patent, which is now awaiting certification, a development which the President said could save the country millions of dollars.
Speaking at the commissioning of the industrial park, which coincided with the university’s 21st graduation ceremony, President Mnangagwa said the Second Republic was making universities centres of innovation and technology.
He also commissioned a state-of-the art new lecture complex named after the late national hero and former Midlands Provincial Governor Cde Cephas Msipa.
President Mnangagwa said he mooted and introduced the idea of innovation hubs and industrial parks at universities in 2018 and was happy that the concept was adopted and was beginning to bear the desired results.
“In all the developed countries, which we call the First World, the route to their development are their universities.
“In the past, during my time in school, the best student with distinctions was the one who knew how long a lion was, the mere length of a lion. Does that type of knowledge bring food on the table?
“So, innovation hubs and industrial parks are creating value for society. It was only in 2018 and my first ceremony here at MSU that I asked for the introduction of innovation hubs which would feed into industrial parks and I agreed then with the Minster of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development that let us select six universities as pilot projects. All the State universities now have innovation hubs and are creating industrial parks,” said the President.
He challenged universities to make use of the innovation hubs to add value to local materials.
MSU’s industrial park was ideally placed to take advantage of the thriving cotton farming in the Midlands Province and add value to cotton lint, which is being exported in its raw form rather than as processed and manufactured products.
“I am advised that the industrial park houses a textile enterprise and chemical manufacturing plant which is currently producing chemical disinfectants. The textile enterprise is expected to enhance the participation of women and youths in our industrialisation and modernisation agenda.
“I challenge Midlands Province to harness the comparative advantage of its cotton growing districts to give impetus to research and development towards resuscitation and growth of the clothing and textiles sub-sectors.”
Three quarters of Zimbabwe’s cotton was exported as raw lint, but, said the President, “We must aim to achieve total value addition of 100 percent and improve revenue streams into the country as opposed to exporting jobs.”
The President said his administration wanted to see every Zimbabwean reaching full potential through a strong and vibrant innovation ecosystem.
This had been enabled by the result-oriented Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) which began in 2018 and ends this year.
The President said under his administration, the country had entered an era of action and solutions.
As such, the priority was the registration of patents, establishment of start-ups and the manufacture of goods and products that answer the needs of the society as well as catapult all to economic prosperity.
The Covid-19 pandemic brought about innovative ideas in a bid to combat its spread and innovation hubs came in handy.
“The Holy Book says that which the enemy meant for evil, God will use it for good (Genesis 50vs 20). While the implication and impact of Covid-19 can never be underplayed, we are however grateful that this distressing pandemic awakened our hitherto dormant innovative prowess. This has seen re-ignition of our manufacturing ingenuity both in industry and within institutions of higher learning,” he said.
The President urged local engineers and experts to take keen interest in the production of the road tar which has been initiated at the MSU industrial park.
“Government, ministries, departments and agencies must be receptive, adopt and deploy solutions being churned out by innovation hubs and industrial parks within our institutions of higher learning.
“I equally encourage the university to quickly implement its future plans to expand the industrial park to produce pharmaceuticals, canned fruits and beverages through your Indigenous Fruit and Herbs Research Project.
“All these projects will help to train and groom highly qualified and skilled entrepreneurs able to work towards the economic growth of our nation. Through this industrial park, I challenge you to transform Gweru and the surrounding areas into a vibrant city of inventions,” he said.
Turning to the new Cephas G Msipa Teaching and Learning Centre at the Faculty of Law, Commerce and Graduate School, President Mnangagwa said
the state-of-the-art centre would go a long way to creating an enabling learning and research environment for students.
“I applaud the Vice Chancellor and Council for naming one of the University’s teaching and learning centres after our national hero, the late Cde Cephas G Msipa. This warm and memorialising gesture is most appreciated and preserves the indelible mark and contributions Cde Msipa made as a teacher, trade unionist, veteran of the libertarian struggle and an official in both Zanu PF and Government.
The President said when the idea of setting up the MSU was mooted, he and the late Cde Msipa were part of the committees that gave birth to the university.
“I was explaining to the Vice Chancellor, the history of this university. Firstly, we had to find out what is it that we did not have at the University of Zimbabwe and NUST, which were the only two universities in the country then. We needed an MSU with a particular focus so we formed a committee which I chaired and had Cde Cephas Msipa and the late Cde Richard Hove. Our patron was Dr (Simon) Muzenda, also now late, and the academic consultant was Professor Ngwabi Bhebhe. So I am happy that they have honoured one of the four planners of this university. The gesture is most appreciated.”