For a long time local universities have been accused of failing to contribute to national development through research and innovation.
However, that is set to change in the coming years as the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology is in the process of making necessary alignments to the effect.
To change the status quo the institution, yesterday, opened a week-long research and innovation forum bringing together researchers, academics, young innovators and industry players to deliberate on possible partnerships and ways to step up research efforts.
Among topics to be addressed at the forum are modalities of collaboration between the higher learning institution and the private sector for the institution to inform innovations and help address societal issues.
Speaking at the opening of the forum, Professor James McWha, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Rwanda, said it was important for the country to have local young innovators and researchers in position to develop required solutions rather than rely on imported solutions.
With science and technology at the centre of national development as underlined in Vision 2020, McWha said, quality research by institutions, such as UR, would massively contribute to national development, especially through innovations.
The task ahead, he said, lies in equipping young people and staff with necessary skills to get on with the work ahead.
Prof. Manasse Mbonye, the College principal ,said the new initiative was part of the university’s core mandate and was aligned with the country’s aspiration to become a technology and knowledge based economy.
He said the institution was planning to engage in research for short term, medium term and long term solutions all in line with the national development agenda.
Mbonye pointed out that their partnership with the private sector players would see more innovations and technologies commercialised as well as the industry players giving their input in curriculum development.
Welcoming the development, Dr Mark Cyubahiro Bagabe, the director-general of Rwanda Standards Board, encouraged more people and institutions to engage in research as it was not a solely meant for the academia.
Bagabe called on emerging researchers and innovators not to shy away from pursuing projects due to resource constraints, noting that funds were always available for quality projects.
Researchers and innovators were, however, reminded that products and services from their innovations have to conform to national quality and safety standards if they are to fair well in the market.
The forum also highlighted the numerous opportunities in the country where the region that research and innovation can play a role.
Dr Marie Christine Gasinzigwa, the director of science and technology at the Ministry of Education, observed that the homogeneity and similarities in culture and lifestyle of the citizens of the East African Community was an opportunity for innovators in the country.