Varsity cashing in on masau fruit President Mnangagwa flanked by Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Professor Amon Murwira and Bindura University of Science Education Vice Chancellor Professor Eddie Mwenje look at drinks and jam made from masau fruit during the commissioning of an innovation hub at Bindura University yesterday.

Fungi Kwaramba in BINDURA

INNOVATIVE hubs introduced by President Mnangagwa in 2018, have proved to be a game-changer as traditional fruits like masau are being turned into high end products, while reducing the country import bill through production of water purification chemicals.

President Mnangagwa, who is the Chancellor of State universities, was yesterday in Bindura, Mashonaland Central Province, where he commissioned an innovative hub, female students hotels, and an engineering complex, at Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE), which are all requisite infrastructure for the innovation, industrilisation and modernisation towards Vision 2030, to become an upper middle class economy.

One of the key enablers in realising the national vision is the Heritage Based Education 5.0 philosophy that President Mnangagwa launched in 2018, and which places high emphasis on the production of goods and services.

After officiating at the graduation ceremony of 1887 graduates, the President Mnangagwa said to achieve the production of goods and services that respond to the needs of the populace, his administration will continue to create an appropriate environment essential for developing solutions, the requisite products, design skills, entrepreneurship and technological innovation.

In that vein, the Second Republic made a deliberate decision to establish Innovation Hubs and Industrial Parks within all State universities across the country, financed through Treasury.

“Bindura University has come of age. The growth must entail more ground breaking innovations, inventions and increased community impact both in the province and nation as a whole. Ladies and Gentlemen; The accelerated infrastructure development within our institutions of higher learning is not an end in itself.

“These are designed to meet the fast evolving present and future education ecosystems being witnessed throughout the world. Evidence is strong that high-quality infrastructure facilitate better instruction, improves student outcomes, and reduces dropout rates, among other benefits. The increase in the number of students in institutions of higher learning has further necessitated my Government’s prioritisation of additional learning facilities as well as student and staff accommodation,” he said.

The President expressed satisfaction with the university’s thrust that has enabled it to develop, in a short space of time, and respond to his challenge to be innovative through products that are otherwise abundant in the country but are not fully exploited.

“When we came here last year, I said there is masau here and I was told that they make alcoholic beverages, I then asked Vice Chancellor Mwenje to make products out of masau. Today I was glad to see soap, jam, lotions, yoghurts and vitamin C from masau that are found in Muzarabani, Mt Darwin and Dande.

“I told them to build a factory, we bought them the equipment, we will give them water and electricity. We had large expenses in importing water treatment chemicals but now that is set to be a thing of the past because Bindura is now producing that,” said the President.

The Masawu Value Addition Project, is part of the university’s drive to steer rural industrialisation as envisaged by the Second Republic and closely mirrors the Mwenezi Marula/Mapfura Processing and Value Addition Plant that President Mnangagwa commissioned last year in Masvingo Province. The project has greatly improved livelihoods in the semi-arid area.

In Mashonaland Central, the Masawu Value Addition Project will create employment and generate income for local communities.

Apart from processing masawu, the university is also in sodium silicate production, which is used in the production of soaps, detergents, fire-proofing materials, wall coatings and industrial catalysts. More importantly, it is one of the key chemicals used by local authorities in the treatment of water for human consumption.

In fulfilling President Mnangagwa’s philosophy of development that leaves no one and no place behind, the major raw materials for sodium silicate are found in rural areas and therefore will be drivers of rural development and employment creation.

“Goods and services being churned out of these facilities must impact and change the quality of life of our citizenry. Focus should specifically shift to more interventions in areas such as food and nutrition security; environmental protection; climate mitigation and resilience; natural resources management; ICTs and the digital economy; as well as health and well-being, among others.”

The President said his Government will continue supporting Bindura University, whose other key innovation areas are the Goat Genetics and Artificial Insemination project; moringa oleifera-based stock feeds production; BUSE-ZINARA tolling system; and the cosmeceutical project, among others.

“You have a role to play, leveraging on innovations to help lift our people from poverty into prosperity. Technology is fast evolving, and as a result, our institutions of higher learning must upgrade their technology, infrastructure and technological capabilities to enable them improve and adapt to sudden changes.

In this regard, well-equipped facilities, such as the Engineering Complex that we are commissioning today will go a long way towards ensuring that students perform optimally as they translate their theory learning into practical results, goods and services. Such facilities must therefore be wholly exploited to nurture a crop of engineers with world class technical skills and competencies.

“In line with my Government’s commitment to provide learners with world-class quality education and facilities, I am pleased to be commissioning the Female Student’s Halls of Residence here at Bindura University,” said President Mnangagwa.

The President, who on Thursday was at Manicaland State University of  Applied Sciences where he laid the foundation stone for the construction of university infrastructure, said his Government is determined to improve the welfare of learners by providing modern, safe, secure and comfortable environments, conducive for academic and social development.

“However, these all require significant capital investment. Therefore, over and above Government support and own resources; I invite the private sector to complement our efforts by investing in the development of infrastructure at our institutions of higher learning,” he said.

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