Dr Hassan Mshinda’s role in grooming young innovators

Dr Hassan Mashinda

What you need to know:

  • Dr Mshinda’s contribution was appreciated recently at the Tanzania Startup Association (TSA) Annual General Meeting, where he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Tanzania’s research, technology, and innovation sectors on March 19, 2022, at the Bank of Tanzania’s premises.

Tanzania’s innovation and technology ecosystem is growing by leaps and bounds. However, this progress didn’t happen overnight, there are people who toiled to ensure young innovators and technology enthusiasts benefit from their creative work. One of such people is Dr Hassan Mshinda, a celebrated figure in the local innovation and technology space. He has helped and inspired countless people to tap into their creative and innovative sides.

Dr Mshinda’s contribution was appreciated recently at the Tanzania Startup Association (TSA) Annual General Meeting, where he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Tanzania’s research, technology, and innovation sectors on March 19, 2022, at the Bank of Tanzania’s premises.

Mr Nape Nnauye, Minister of Information, Communication, and Information Technology, presented the award to Dr Mshinda’s son on behalf of his father.

His son, Abas Mshinda, accepting the prize on his behalf, said that his father is honoured to receive the award in acknowledgement of his work and commitment to Tanzania’s research, innovation, and technology sectors.

A man of many hats

“This prize is really deserved by my father. I’m not saying this because I’m his son, but I’m inspired to have grown up observing, learning, and being inspired by his work and devotion to Tanzania’s development,” Abas said as he accepted the prize.

During the occasion, Ambassador Ami Mpungwe recounted Dr Mshinda’s biography, explaining that he is a man of many hats and outstanding accomplishments.

“Dr Mshinda has served on the boards of many research and academic institutes.”

He was engaged in a variety of consulting projects in Tanzania and overseas. He was an Honorary Professor at the University of Liverpool and a member of the United Nations High Level Commission on Health Commodities for Newborn and Pregnant Women. Currently, he works as a consultant for the Swiss-based Botnar Foundation, which focuses on harnessing digital technologies to enhance adolescent health and wellbeing. He also played an integral role in the formation of Dar Teknohama Business Incubator (DTBi)

“You can’t be appreciated with all these engagements if you’re not well respected and recognised for your work,” Ambassador Mpungwe said.

During the awarding, Tanzania Startup Association CEO Zahoro Muhaji stated that Dr Mshinda’s efforts to accelerate innovation and technology in Tanzania must be recognised because they have had a tremendous impact on not only innovation and technology, but the overall national direction in tapping the potential of the digital economy and contributing to the national economy and poverty alleviation.

Positive impact

“Dr Mshinda’s work has had a tremendous positive impact over the years, not only on the Tanzanian startup ecosystem, but also on the overall innovation and technology sector, accelerating the country’s efforts to innovate, adapt, and build technological solutions that address the most pressing social and economic challenges for all Tanzanians,” Mr Muhaji said.

Dr Hassan Mshinda was born in Moshi on 29, September 1959. He obtained a Master of Science in Applied Parasitology and Medical Entomology from the University of Liverpool in 1992 and later PhD from the University of Basel, Switzerland in 2000. He worked as a scientist and later Director of the Ifakara Health Institute. He attracted a number of research grants from various international donors and foundations.

The project’s research findings have been published in a number of international and peer-reviewed publications, and they have had an influence on health policy and strategy at both the national and international levels, particularly in the areas of malaria, schistosomiasis, and child health. This was a crucial step in the Institute’s development.

During his tenure, the Institute received the renowned Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation 2008 from the Prince of Spain.

Creating opportunities for youth

He was named Director General of the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology in June 2008, a position he held until November 2017. During this period, he developed a number of initiatives aimed at boosting research management, including innovation programmes such as inventive spaces, incubation programmes, and innovation funds, as part of Tanzania’s efforts to create an innovation ecosystem. Chief Executive Officer of Sahara Ventures, Jumanne Mtambalike is one of Tanzania’s entrepreneurs and innovators inspired by Dr Mshinda.

“Dr Mshinda is the type of person who looks beyond money and instead focuses on creating opportunities. His ventures have led to many youth finding success and inspiration under his wing,” says innovator and technology enthusiast Mtabalike.

In narrating how Dr Mshinda helped him in his career journey, he recollects to 2011 when he had just returned from India after finishing his academic pursuit in computer science and engineering.

“The journey to knowing Dr Mshinda began when I was a volunteer at Costech, teaching various subjects related to making apps, websites and more. Years later I had the opportunity to work with BUNI hub. That’s where I met Dr Mshinda,” details Mtambalike.

At Buni, Dr Mshinda was helping everyone who had an idea or project when it came to technology. He ensured the systems were challenging enough in order to produce optimum results and lead to the success of the project at hand.

A good role model

Dr Mshinda was a believer in projects that had a positive impact – brought about change. Mtambalike remembers Dr Mshinda’s role in helping the innovation of a 3D printer that was made from e-waste, the first of its kind in East and Central Africa.

“Dr Mshinda inspired me to have the heart of helping others, take risks and create a platform for other people to thrive. He would always repeat this motto, ‘you better ask for forgiveness instead of wasting your time asking for permission’. He would conclude by saying: Always move fast, break things,” recollects Mtambalike.

Founder and CEO of Magilatech, Godfrey Magila, celebrates Dr Mshinda as his mentor who helped him go to Dar Teknohama Business Incubator.

“He showed me that I can do things which I love (programming), and at the same time make a positive contribution to society, all whilst being able to make money,” said Magila.

Speaking about the inspiration he got from Dr Mshinda, Magila explained that Dr Mshinda made him believe in himself and what he does.

“I was a student who majored in Accounting and Finance. But he gave me a chance at the incubator and shaped me into what I am today through coaching,” shared Magila.