HIT developing digital currency
Zvamaida Murwira Herald Reporter
President Mnangagwa yesterday capped 538 graduates at Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) where he heard that the institution was developing a central banking digital currency to reduce printing and transactional costs and to eliminate currency manipulation, cash hoarding and black market trading.
The tertiary institution said the technology, based on blockchain technology, had covered great mileage as the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa champions the country’s industrialisation and modernisation agenda.
This was revealed by HIT Vice Chancellor, Dr Quinton Kanhukamwe during the institution’s 13th graduation ceremony where President Mnangagwa, who is the Chancellor of all State universities, presided over the conferment of 538 students with Masters and undergraduate degrees in various disciplines.
Dr Kanhukamwe said blockchain technology provided mechanisms to digitalise trust and transparency.
“Many at times, the unbanked population believe that the traditional financial sector is only there to rip off all their earnings. It has the capacity to reduce significantly the regulatory costs for central banks thus reducing the transactional costs that will ultimately reduce the costs of service. As a result, there is significant reduction in fees,” said Dr Kanhukamwe.
“Therefore banking the unbanked will boost the business for the small and medium enterprises as they increase chances of ordering finance. The technology will reduce the printing of money as we work towards a digitalised economy by 2030. Digital currency has the capability of eliminating currency manipulation, hoarding and fuelling of black market currency trading,” he said.
Some of the innovations that the institution is exploring include tollgate management system, limestone and lithium beneficiation, global telecommunications e-sim management system, dedicated digital protection system and waste plastic beneficiation among others.
On tollgate management system, HIT has developed a system that works independent of network connectivity.
“Such a solution will eliminate long queues at all our roads. The solution has already been commercialised and is pending local adoption by Zinara,” said Dr Kanhukamwe.
On lithium ore beneficiation, the project is on pilot testing stage and focuses on the production of battery grade lithium from the country’s local mines.
“Several lab tests have already been carried out and we are now ready to set up a testing pilot plant with a target of 100kgs per month for the production of battery grade lithium carbonate. These experiments will be completed by end of December 2022,” said Dr Kanhukamwe.
There is also the dedicated personal protection system which is a latest breakthrough that has since been validated and is now under implementation in Botswana.
The system uses a digital identity card that has a two way communication based on the e-sim technology.
“If there is a robbery the bank teller or security personnel simply presses a button on the card. In that instant the system sends an SOS to our platform indicating current location of the robbery,” he said.
“Furthermore there is an automated call that allows us to talk to the person under attack. The digital ID card can also be tracked even across borders. In Zimbabwe, our system automatically picks up any available network based on signal strength and quality. This technology will drastically reduce robberies if implemented.”
Other innovations include waste plastic beneficiation focussing on developing equipment for plastic recycling where the university researchers have begun working on substituting 25 percent of raw materials imported for the manufacturing of 50kg poly bags for the Grain Marketing Board.
The grain utility has since achieved 25 percent raw materials substitution and current experiments by HIT are targeting 75 percent replacement of imported material.
On international property, said Dr Kanhukamwe, HIT has registered 626 copyrights at the close of 2021/2022 academic year, two utility models and 16 industrial designs had been attained.
“With research, more resources mean more scientific breakthroughs and technological advances, deeper influence in the thinking and decision of policy makers, business leaders and other scientists, and more innovative solutions to complex human problems,” said Dr Kanhukamwe.
Turning to the graduation ceremony, Dr Kanhukamwe said among the graduands were the inaugural class of radiographers, materials engineering and technology engineers which coincided with the revival of the foundry and metal casting industry and the opening of iron and steel mining at Manhize by President Mnangagwa on Thursday.
Of the 539 students, said Dr Kanhukamwe, 43,4 percent were female.
There were two final year students from the institution’s School of Information Science and Technology that participated at International Cybersecurity Challenge 2022 in Athens, Greece in June representing the African region to International Cyber Security.
Trevor Randinyu, a Part 3 student from the Biotechnology Department was the overall winner at 2022 Business Plan Competition and walked away with First prize of US$5 000.
Notable among the graduates was senior Government official, Mr Collins Mungate who was conferred with Master of Technology degree in Strategy and Innovation.
The event was attended by Higher and Technology Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister, Professor Amon Murwira, his Deputy, Cde Raymond Machingura, Permanent Secretary Professor Fanuel Tagwira and Vice Chancellors from other State Universities.