Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation H.E. Datuk Dr Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah, senior government officials from Malaysia and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency representatives met at the NEPAD-NSTIH in Pretoria, South Africa, on Wednesday to discuss possible collaboration in research between Malaysia and Africa.
The NEPAD Agency was represented by the Head of Programme Development Mr Martin Bwalya, Agricultural and Training Coordinator Professor Hamidou Boly, Science, Technology and Innovation Programme Coordinator Dr Tichaona Mangwende and Partnerships and Resource Mobilization Officer Ms Kisa Nkhoma.
In his welcoming remarks Mr Martin Bwalya indicated that NEPAD’S focus areas in terms of science and technology currently include Biosciences and Science,Technology and Innovation (ST&I), remarking on their critical role in advancing globally competitive capacity and the ability to transform Africa’s own socio-economic systems, noting that Malaysia has in the recent past made significant ST&I advances in building capacity across public and private sector interests.
Mr Zahairi Baharim, the Deputy High Commissioner of Malaysia to South Africa, highlighted that Malaysia isinterested in partnering with the NEPAD Agency through the Malaysia Technical Cooperation Platform (MTCP). The Malaysian Deputy Minister of ST&I also advised that the government of Malaysia also offers grants to innovators via several of its funds, including the Innovation Fund, Commercialisation, Research and Development Fund, Science Fund and the Ministry is managing 30 Agencies. And the Ministry is managing 30 companies registered under its name.
The MTCP was officially launched in 1980 at the Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting in New Delhi to signify Malaysia’s commitment to South-South Cooperation, inparticular to the Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries – TCDC. This platform was established to facilitate the sharing of experiences and expertise between developing countries, and training is provided in various areas such as public administration, good governance, agriculture, ICT, and investment promotions.
It was agreed during the meeting that NEPAD and the Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation can commence working together i in terms of Industrialisation (Technical Partnerships in-terms of training and related areas) and the use of Innovation Facilities in Malaysia. It was also suggested that an educational tour could be facilitated by the Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. Furthermore, they Invited NEPAD to participate in the Global Transformation Forum held between 21-23 October 2015. Towards these aims, aCooperation Agreement will be drafted.
The meeting was concluded with a tour of the CSIR Biosciences unit, including the NEPAD South Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio) Hub facilities, Biomanufacturing Industry Development Centre (BIDC) and the bioprospecting laboratories. During the tour Dr Daniel Visser mentioned that the BIDC is currently incubating 12 companies and the number will increase to 17 by end of this year.