The University of Namibia (Unam) says that despite its rich research profile not enough activity occurs to innovate products and drive development in the country – and research ends up being shelved most of the time.
“Yet, the professors here at Unam have solutions that can change lives. One great example is the Kalimbeza rice project, which benefited from Unam’s researchers. Similarly, we have begun the production of various pills for research. But we want to go a step further, and drive development by coming up, with not only theories, and findings, but providing working models, prototypes and systems that are tested and can work in the real world,” Unam spokesperson John Haufiku said.
Haufiku says Unam has experienced exponential growth since its inception more than two decades ago, hence the post of pro-vice chancellor (PVC) for research, innovation and development.
The appointment could signal its commitment to Namibia’s developmental goals.
“Despite being a tertiary institution, our duty to Namibia’s development goes without question. As the country moves closer to Vision 2030, Unam is intensifying research, innovation and development,” he stressed.
Moreover, Haufiku said the re-structuring sub-committee recommended to the Unam council that a dedicated PVC is needed to drive the new process.
The decision to appoint the PVC for research was approved by council with immediate effect at a council gathering earlier this year.
The sub-committee that made the recommendation consulted broadly, visited every campus, and spoke to students, staff and members of the public. After that process, he says, it became clear there are various needs, long overdue, at Unam.
Most universities around the world have a centre for innovation development, which particularly focuses on creating value.
Plans for the future, he says, include a centre for innovation and development, which will be a hub to drive creative ideas and products.
According to him, funding remains a challenge “but finding solutions is what we do”.
He added that there are various grants available to supplement what the university receives from government, but it intends to spark the interest of corporate society by forming mutually beneficial relationships.
“Before the great expansion, it made sense to have one pro-vice chancellor for academic affairs and research. However, things have changed now, says the re-structuring sub-committee that was established by the university council to steer the restructuring process. And this is one of many changes earmarked to help the university fulfill its mandate,” he maintained.