More involvement and investment in research and development was the call of the academics and researchers at last week’s Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) institutional research open day.
National Commission on Research Science and Technology CEO, Eino Mvula, noted the impact of research can never be over-emphasised, as it plays a role in influencing policy decisions.
He also said the fourth national development plan (NDP4) has since put emphasis on the development of research and has thus singled out some challenges into the implementation of research, development and innovation at a higher level in the country.
Therefore, NDP4 has decided to set aside 3% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), which is approximately N$3m for annual research activities.
Mvula touched on the fact that his organisation is in the process of setting up a national programme on research, science, technology and innovation to identify the state of research and development (R&D), to ensure it is taken seriously at national level and to identify the shortcomings in that sector.
He further commended PoN for the commitment to promote research, saying, “As a commission on research, science and technology, we will always support your effort in developing research. This is especially important for your institution as it transits into a University of Science and Technology.”
The open day was part of PoN’s institutional research week, which had various presentations done on researches conducted from the various disciplines it offers.
PoN rector, Tjama Tjivikua, stressed their careful, strategic and transformational planning, to ensure a smooth transition into January 2014 when they will officially become a University of Science and Technology.
“At the centre of the strategic plan are five goals; excellence in teaching, research and service, students’ centeredness, efficient and effective governance and management, sustained contribution to national development and strong collaboration,” he said.
Part of the institutional week’s activities included the third annual Polytechnic Research and Teaching Excellence Awards, which saw several winners emerge from various categories, with Professor Tiko Iyamu from the School of Information Technology (IT) as the overall award winner in the research category. Iyamu was also awarded the Faculty Researcher award.
In the Teaching Excellence Awards, Emmanuel Okorie won the Early Career Teaching award, Andrew Zulu won the Mid Career Teaching award while Alexandra Tjiramanga won in the Advanced Career Teaching category.
Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) statistician-general, Dr John Steytler said at the award giving ceremony, Namibia is at the bottom of the list when it comes to research, thus more needs to be conducted.
He emphasised issues such as unemployment and housing problems, which he said could be addressed if more research was conducted to find adequate solutions.
Dr Steytler urged the private and public sectors to invest more in research now that Namibia has a National Research Council.
“There are companies in Namibia that outsource basic research in South Africa that our own institutions like PoN could have carried out. Let’s do research more because if we don’t carry them out, we will never know what could drive the development of our country,” he said.