[MAPUTO] Mozambique's government will drive the development of four 'science parks' across the country to encourage scientists to find solutions for its social, health and infrastructural problems.
António Leão, national director of Mozambique's Ministry of Science and Technology, says the initiative is aimed at taking science and technology to the people.
"These parks will be places where science and industry meet to find appropriate and workable solutions to our country's problems," Leão told SciDev.Net.
The parks will be located near the capital Maputo and in the Zambezia and Nampula provinces and will house research into agricultural technologies, energy, telecommunications, biotechnology and building materials.
"The first science park with an area of 950 hectares will be located in Mahica, a small town that is 98 kilometres from Maputo," said Leão. It will concentrate on information communication technology in its initial stages.
Leão said there was already a malaria research programme based at the site of the first proposed park and that more research programmes would be encouraged to base their offices and laboratories in the science and industry hub.
The formation of the parks — which are planned to look like South Africa's Centre for Science and Industrial Research (CSIR) — was announced by Mozambique's minister of science and technology, Venâncio Massingue, at a press conference in Maputo this month (15 October).
The allAfrica online news service reported that the initial funding of US$25 million for the first park would come through a partnership between the Mozambican and Indian governments, and would cover laboratories, computer equipment and ensure water and electricity connections.
Massingue told SciDev.Net it is imperative that Mozambicans become able to support and maintain the technology and industry the country needs to progress.
"We can't have computers if we don't know how to fix them when they need repairs," he said. "In the past we had to send computers out the country when they need repairs."
Mozambique was devastated by two decades of civil war following independence in 1975 and still faces massive infrastructure backlogs. Massingue, who trains as an electrical engineer, is determined to use science and technology to uplift his country and encourages scientists to "go and talk to the people" in their efforts to resolve issues relating to health, agriculture, energy and water provision.