Apply science to resolve energy problems, African varsities urged

01Nov 2017
Beatrice Philemon
The Guardian
Apply science to resolve energy problems, African varsities urged

AFRICAN universities should apply science to solve solar energy problems that people are facing in Eastern and southern Africa, experts suggested yesterday.

Prof John Machiwa, principal at the College of Agricultural Sciences and Fisheries Technology, University of Dar es Salaam

They were speaking in Dar es Salaam at the ongoing workshop on Solar Energy Materials for Energy needed in Africa in honour of the late Prof Rogath Kivaisi and third Materials Science and Solar Energy Network for Eastern and Southern Africa (MSSEESA) conference.

The forum brought on board renowned experts in the field of materials science and solar energy from Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and far as Sweden.

Prof John Machiwa, principal at the College of Agricultural Sciences and Fisheries Technology, University of Dar es Salaam said the traditional teaching of science and research in physics in many African countries has mostly been done in a way that there was little or no link at all with industries, thus the gap between what is taught of researched and the production sector has remained wide.

“In order to bridge the gap between production capacity and technology one needs to set up a dynamic and rigorous industrial development process,” the don said, adding that problem of production capacity has to be innovated, fabricated, developed and sustained through application of applied science.

He described the late Prof Kivais as an iconic feature in solar energy materials in Tanzania and regional at large.

“It is the responsibility of the physics department, the college and the university to make sure that these assets take us to the next level and we can also emulate the same system of research and development in other areas of science and technology to have internationally recognised research groups,” Prof Machiwa said.

Apart from that what was started by the department of Physics of the University of Dar es Salaam in 1970’s and pioneered by the late Prof Kivais was to promote  science and  especially Physics as a tool for economic  development  instead of only teaching  physics for  secondary school  teaching.

 The department of physics tried to show the application side which solves society problems and in this way the students had the opportunity to see the purpose of learning physics that otherwise appear to be a very abstract science.

“I urge the universities to engage themselves in this way so that students and society can appreciate the science that is currently moving the world into a 4th industrial revolution,” he noted.

For his part, Chief Coordinator of Materials Science and Solar Energy Network for Eastern and Southern Africa (MSSEESA) Prof Tom Otiti said that the late prof Rogath Kivaisi was the founder of the MSSEESA that was established in 2004 as a regional partnership aiming at fostering efficient and effective use of human and infrastructure capacity in advanced research in Materials Science and Solar Energy in the region.