Why aiding Tanzania innovators can help tackle challenges

Sunday June 19 2022
Machumu innovation

Mwananchi Communications Limited managing director Bakari Machumu (right) speaks on the eve of the Innovation Week discussion. PHOTO | FILE

By Jacob Mosenda

Dar es Salaam. For Tanzania to tackle most of its challenges facing society, it must adequately invest in equipping its people through science and technology-related skills.

Experts argue that to broaden the scope of problem resolutions, the nation needs to have scholars at all levels of education who are capable of coming up with workable innovations.

However, for this to happen, emerging innovators must be reached out, supported and developed because sometimes students at low levels of education are unaware of creative potentials they have without being guided. The government through Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (Costech) has in the 2022/23 financial year allocated Sh5.5 billion for supporting innovators for them to commercialise their innovations in the market.

The allocation is an increase from Sh1 billion allocated in the 2021/22 budget is equivalent to 450 percent.

The government has already identified 200 innovators whose projects have performed well in the National Science, Technology and Innovation Competition (Makisatu) in past years where Sh2.3 billion had been utilised to support the innovations. However, in order for an architect to be developed through the fund, one must be the best performer in the national competition, a requirement that locks outside hundreds of young talents.

In secondary schools, it has been seen that there are many emerging creators who, if well supported, including from the private sector, they can significantly contribute to providing solutions to challenges facing the community.

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Last week, girls in the creative industry voiced their concerns that lack of sponsors for developing their innovations, some of which are relatively new, but couldn’t receive assistance from their schools (public) hindered their development.

They, therefore, wanted technology and development stakeholders to support their creativity in order to enable them to grow.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, my mother had to close her restaurant for fear of contracting the disease, even though that was the family bread earning job. I sat down and thought about how I could help her to continue with the business,” explains, Mariam Athuman, a Form Three student at Tanga Technical Secondary School.

“We came up with an idea of designing a face mask detection project. Through it, when a person with the disease gets close to the restaurant door, it automatically does not open.”

The young girls and many others want support of the government and other stakeholders in order to move forward with their innovations as they have already demonstrated their respective areas of interests and expertise.

“Stakeholders should not think that we are still young, our brains can as well help in problem resolutions through innovation. We want our ideas to start working as we continue with our academic trajectory,” said Ms Atupele Kaisi, from the same school as they showcased their works.


In an interview shortly after the girls’ in technology, ‘Tekla Festival 2022’ a programme organized in collaboration with stakeholders from Nodic countries and the Robotech Labs Institute in the country, deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Prof Caroline Nombo hinted to government plans to develop such talents.

She said the girls’ creativity was in line with the government’s vision to promote Science and Technology in everyday life in order to provide solutions to problems facing the society.

She said that young scientists are in primary and secondary schools, therefore, the government will continue to provide economic empowerment in order to become future great scientists through Costech.

“What is exciting is that the while the whole world has developed the view that science and technology were the issues mostly involved men, these young girls have proven that science and technology is possible with the women who can do them correctly and support the government’s innovation agenda,” she noted.

Costech’s director general, Dr Amos Nungu said his commission will continue nurturing the talents of different young people especially girls who are taking science subjects to ensure that the country development is realized through their scientific innovations.

He said the aim was to continue to encourage young girls to study science so that they can be creative in different ways.

“Schools in partnership with Robotech Labs have trained these young people for one month on Robot-related programming issues. Costech has the work to coordinate and develop these talents,” explained Dr Nungu.