WINDHOEK - Deputy permanent delegate of Namibia to Unesco Immolatrix Geingos has urged President Hage Geingob and members of his Cabinet to consider the plight of the research, science, and technology and innovation community for more and sustained funding.
Geingos said there is blooming potential, but initiatives are currently insufficient to make the necessary impact, mainly due to limited resources.
Geingos who is a permanent delegate to Unesco Paris, France made these remarks while giving an overview of the state of Namibia’s innovation landscape at the opening of the Namibia Innovation Conference which started yesterday and will go on till Friday at Windhoek Country Club Resort in Windhoek.
The conference is hosted by the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation under the theme “forging a Namibian Consensus on Innovation”.
Geingos said the 2004 Research Science Technology Act, established under the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST), for research, science and technology, also funds innovation related projects.
“However, off late, this funding has scaled down significantly due to the national economic situation. While this is understandable, we should acknowledge that it is a major drawback for advancement of innovation as a development tool.
Geingos said their deliberations and proposals of the conference will be in vain without increased funding. “More so, when South African Development Community (Sadc) countries have committed to at least one percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to research funding. Currently, Namibia falls way below this minimum regional target,” said Geingos.
She said Namibia research and development community has not significantly take advantage of resource mobilisation both nationally and internationally and this remains a cause of concern.
Furthermore, Geingos says the country need platforms to actively search and nurture young talent and creative ideas, and also integrate grass roots and “garage” innovations in the mainstream innovation agenda.
Geingos stated that Namibia has a considerate industrial presence, however, industry rarely cooperate with higher education in research and development.
She said it is equally true that most of the firms in Namibia are smaller branches of big companies in other countries and this imply that they do not engage in considerable research and development here, as this is done by their mother companies. “Industry is one of the key actors in innovation and this link need to be strengthened.”
Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi said according to the 2016 Unesco scoping mission report, the main science, technology and innovation challenges for Namibia are policy incoherence, lack of an enabling policy framework to support innovation and entrepreneurship. She also mentioned insufficient research development and innovation, infrastructure and weak linkages between the various actors in the national system of innovation as challenges amongst others.
She said that the conference considers the important link between education and innovation. “Streamlining innovation in education and training in all streams of formal education is an imperative. Equally important is the identification of the critical nodes that connect innovation to research, innovation to technology and innovation to entrepreneurship.” She said schools, colleges, TVET centres and universities across the country must play an important role in implementing and promoting all types of innovations, including grassroot innovation, for sustainable development.