Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Prof James Mdoe told a group of 60 grassroots innovators during the closing meeting of four day training recently that aimed at fine-tuning their innovative idea and networking with potential stakeholders and investors.
The four-day training was organised by the government through the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (Costech) and facilitated by different stakeholders such as government institutions and organisations in Dar es Salaam.
Prof Mdoe said the government is committed and determined to support them to realise their dreams and be able to contribute effectively to the country’s development agenda. However, he made clear that the plan of the government is not to dish out money but to facilitate them, to build capacity and equip them with new knowledge, skills that sharpen their innovative ideas and products.“Our strategy as government is not to give you fish that will feed you for a day, but it is to teach you how to fish so that you can feed yourself for a lifetime. This innovation is yours, our work is to facilitate conducive environment so that you can move from where you are now, to the higher levels of science, technology and innovations,” he said.
He challenged the grassroots innovators to work hard and develop creative and competitive products so that they can be able to compete and win the local and international market.
“Our aim of bringing you here is to capacitate and ensure you access opportunities. We expect you to develop higher quality products and goods that can actually address problems in our communities.He urged the young innovators to be ambassadors to other youth who could not get an opportunity to get through to the finals.Costech’s Director General Dr Amos Nungu said that the 60 innovators was the first bunch of participants of competitions held this year that attracted 337 entries across the country. He said that there are different levels and categories of innovators such as those whose innovation answers challenges that affects them especially in the informal sector, there are those whose innovation shows that science works and those whose innovations provides alternative ways of doing things. “I can assure you that we have systems in place, those who are responsible are present and that’s why for the past four days you have been here for the training, we invited responsible people and relevant institutions and potential investors to come and share with you available opportunities,” he said.He named some responsible organisations and institutions as the National Economic Empowerment Council (NEEC), Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO), among many others.“We are not wasting resources here, we want to see the value for money. There are many innovators who are out there who also need these facilities, you will be placed in different institutions. I urge you to use them very carefully so that your colleagues can also access and benefit,” he said.He said the process of getting 60 young innovators was very transparent. Initially a total of 337 entered the competitions where after evaluation, 60 innovators qualified. They were called in Dodoma and after further evaluation three emerged winners but later on, the government decided to train them all. “We decided to take all 60 innovators on board for further training because they are all ours,’ he said.Reading their message, a representative of the innovators Halima Mpita from Songwe region called on the government to review the innovation and technology policy to enhance support for the innovators so that they could contribute positively to the industrial drive.“We request the government to give priority the local innovators through state-owned media. At least there should be special programmes that aims at promoting local innovation. The local innovators should be given enough airtime to participate and showcase their innovations. Not only that but also the local innovators should be given room to participate in the local and international competitions,” she stressed.Mpita who produces alternative energy using coal charcoal said that the government should put in place plans and strategies that will enable the innovators participate in the international exchange programme so that they can get an opportunity to learn from others and gain new experience.“We are asking the government to ensure it directs the district councils across the country that 10 percent that supports the youth, women and the people with disability should also support grassroots innovators. Currently, the 10 percent is meant to support the youth (4 percent), the women (4 percent) and People with Disability (2 percent). We want to see specific budget focusing on local and grassroots innovators to support them so that they can effectively and efficiently contribute to the industrial economy,” she said.“We understand that sometimes the 10 per cent is being used politically, we are asking deliberate efforts and interventions to set aside reasonable budget that focuses only to promote grassroots innovators,” she stressed.Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology is a parastatal organisation with the responsibility of co-ordinating and promoting research and technology development activities in the country. It is the chief advisor to the government on all matters pertaining to science and technology and their application to the socio-economic development of the country