Sifelani Tsiko Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor
France remains committed to actively supporting mid-career scientists to scale up their research activities to find innovative solutions to livelihoods and biodiversity conservation challenges facing local communities in Zimbabwe and most other countries in southern Africa.
Speaking at the opening of the Research Platform Production and Conservation in Partnership (PCP) meeting recently, French Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Laurent Chevallier said his country was keen to strengthen cooperation between its own research institutions and local ones to help build the capacity of mid-career scientists.
“To achieve this goal, the PCP is fully in line with a sustainable approach, by giving priority to capacity building at different levels of project implementation,” he said.
“I’m glad to say that the platform continues to support the graduate training of early and mid-career scientists who studied in African and European universities. All this has helped to strengthen scientific exchanges between African and European universities, especially in France.”
In addition, Mr Chevallier said the platform had also led to the development of co-research between African, French and other universities.
“We are very proud of these results,” he said. “After 14 years, the PCP has managed to train more than 150 MSc and PhD students, mostly Zimbabwean and SADC students including currently 50 on-going students. The researchers have published more than 160 research articles and book chapters as well as attracting multiple funding from EU, AFD and other partners.”
The Research Platform Production and Conservation in Partnership (PCP) was established in 2007.
The platform includes the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and the French research institutes Cirad and CNRS.
In 2018, three new research institutions joined the PCP, namely Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT, Zimbabwe), Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE, Zimbabwe) and University of Zambia (UNZA) as a regional member.
This year, six new institutions will join the platform. These include, Gwanda State University (GSU), Great Zimbabwe University, Institut de recherche pour le Development (IRD, France), Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM, Mozambique), Okavango Research Institute (ORI, Botswana) and the Nelson Mandela University (NMU, South Africa).
This has increased the number of partner institutions to 13 under the PCP.
“The main focus of the platform is to contribute to the livelihoods of local communities and biodiversity conservation through research in southern Africa.
“This expansion shows the success and relevance of the platform, as well as its attractiveness,” said Mr Chevallier.
Prof Prisca Mugabe, UZ, PCP co-coordinator hailed the platform for contributing to the up-skilling of young African scientists in the platform as graduate fellows and encouraging co-research between African, French and other universities.
“The main output of the PCP is that more than 60% of MSc and Phd students trained are still working on the PCP topics as staff from academic, governmental and non-governmental institutions and organisations” she said.
The 2021 PCP meeting ran from November 29 to December 2.
During this week’s meeting, partners are expected to meet, discuss, network and welcome the platform’s five new national and regional members as well as its students.
A new five –year Memorandum of Understanding (Mou) is also expected to be signed.
The annual event had been suspended after almost two years of COVID-19 effects.