By Ranga Mataire
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) region has approved the establishment and operationalisation of the SADC University of Transformation to train citizens in innovation to facilitate industrialisation in the region.
The University of Transformation will be in the form of a virtual university based on the concept of a network of partner institutions and universities that will be designated as centres of excellences and specialisation.
The university is the brainchild of King Mswati III of Swaziland who at the time of his chairmanship in 2016 proposed that the establishment of the institution will assist industrial production.
“Summit approved the operationalisation of the SADC University of Transformation, in the form of a virtual university, to focus on entrepreneurship, innovation, commercialisation, technology transfer, enterprise development, digital and knowledge economy, to support the SADC industrialisation agenda,” reads part of the communiqué released after the recent 38th SADC Heads of Government and State in Windhoek, Namibia.
However, while other countries like Namibia support the operationalisation of the university, they raised concerns over opaqueness in the costing as it is not clear how much member states are expected to contribute.
The university is expected to take into account the regional skills needs and is poised to complement the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063 covering the three main pillars of industrialisation, competitiveness and regional integration.
The agenda to be implemented in three phases has a number of interventions that include measures to upgrade science, technology, engineering and research capabilities of member states; skills development; institutional reforms; and the adoption of macroeconomic policies conducive for industrial development.
It also involves the introduction of advanced technology in agro-food processing projects, increased investment in knowledge, development of unique skills, nurturing innovation as well as promoting competitiveness and deepening an entrepreneurial culture.