Zimbabwe appears to be on the sidelines and indeed at the “back of the line” when it comes to technological advances. But two young men from National University of Science and Technology (Nust) have recently challenged that dogma.
The duo, Richard Macklin Kunhuwa and Godknows Mdhari developed an affordable school management system that seeks to digitalise local schools.
“Well, I think I got a bit frustrated that almost all the software we use in this country are not locally made yet we have the best education on the continent,” Kunhuwa a final year Engineering student at Nust, said
“If we could find a way to actually use our skills to address local problems, we will really become a powerhouse in Africa. We realised that a lot of our local schools do not have a proper digitalised record keeping system, so I teamed up with a friend who was studying Records Management to build this system.”
He said the software system was fast, powerful and very affordable.
“We also understand the challenges we face in this country of poor internet connections etc. that’s why we build this system to not require internet connections,” Kunhuwa said.
“We also have built a team of dedicated technicians who are available 24/7 if any problems arise. I think that’s also our advantage over foreign online systems.”
Mdhari, who is also the Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union chairperson, said the goal was to build a better Zimbabwe through creative thinking and innovation.
“It goes without saying that this is how we can solve the biggest problem in this country of unemployment,” he said.
“When Richard approached me with the idea last year during my attachment period at the Nust Information and Communication Technology Services department, I saw it as a noble idea as the system gathers and processes records such as student records, staff records, payment and receipts records allowing administration to make quick and informed decisions in real timer and with required support, the system is targeted to go regional in assisting convenient information management,” he said.
However, the two are finding it hard to compete against products from well-established companies.
“We have to compete with products from Microsoft which is a multibillion company. However, if we could get support from locally I think we will make it. We implore the government to support us a little bit. Our growth is their growth and we are going to raise the country’s flag higher,” Kunhuwa said.
Thousands of students and policymakers in the higher education sector are expected to converge in Bulawayo this month-end when a leading online tech magazine, TechnoMag, jointly hosts this year’s Research and Intellectual Outputs-Science, Engineering and Technology (Rio-Set) expo with the ministry of Higher & Tertiary Education ministry
The expo, to be held at the National University of Science Technology, from 31 August to 3 September this year, is a government initiative established to bring together all higher and tertiary education institutions to deliberate and exhibit research products.
This year’s theme is ‘growing the Zimbabwean economy through innovations.’
TechnoMag’s weighs in with their Tech@School initiative which in a nutshell a national technology career guidance that involves Inspirational sessions to alert students on technological advancements in the ICT world.
The Rio-set in conjunction with the Tech@school expo will showcase Zimbabwean technological prowess to Industry and commerce.
Toneo Tonderai Rutsito, founder of TechnoMag said the event was a milestone to drive innovation and expose young innovators at various institutions while bridging the technological divide between industry and learning institutions in Zimbabwe.
Rutsito said: “We have lots of talent that has been exhibited by our young innovators which unfortunately has not been getting enough support; we seek in our small way to help expose these young tech innovators to industry and hopefully create an environment that promotes symbiotic business interests for all players.”
The organises explained that the goal was to provide a platform where Zimbabweans would discovers new research outputs being produced in higher and tertiary education institutions.
The inaugural African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology (AMCOST) held in Senegal in 2005, concluded that for Africa to realize meaningful socioeconomic development in a rapidly globalizing world in which the rate of entry of new technologies onto the market demands, a greater focus on the extension of value chain of available natural resources through effective exploitation of science and technology was needed.
This in effect would contribute to narrowing the North and South development divide by harnessing science and technology to transform national economies and achieve the Post 2015 agenda.
It was noted that while RIOSET focused on providing a platform for experts from Universities and Tertiary Institutions (from within and outside Zimbabwe) to share their research and intellectual outcomes on the broad theme of the exposition, the greater part of promotion of public/private sector awareness of the role of Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in development, remained unattended.
Consequently the absence of industry, community based organizations, schools and the general public was registered as a matter that required urgent attention.
The inaugural SADC SET Week was launched in Mauritius in 2009. Thereafter member states have organized such events using various formats. Since 2010, Zimbabwe has organized annual SET Week celebrations guided by an AU continental Theme with participation from experts and exhibitors invited from the SADC member states and beyond.
BEAMING with confidence, Donald Mjonono, a chemical engineering student from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), took to the podium and owned the moment at the NUST Engineering Students Award Competition (NUSTESAC) held at NUST campus in Bulawayo.
The 2016 NUST preliminary competition attracted eight competitors from different engineering disciplines, which saw Mjonono rising up to the occasion and scooping the best engineering award of the year.
“l’m very happy about the outcome of this project and that I managed to pull through despite the financial challenges I met due to shortage of engineering equipment at NUST,” said Mjonono after the competition.
The yearly event was sponsored by Lennard Bread (lnnscor), UNICEF, and Eng. CM. Chivonivoni in a bid to promote and nature young talent.
Mjonono is one of many innovative and creative youths in Zimbabwe whose brilliant ideas might result in a better nation if they are natured, supported and implemented.
However these dreams and ideas might amount to nothing if there is lack of financial assistance.
According to the Eng.Samson Mhlanga who is the chairperson in the Department of industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, students have been coming up with brilliant projects every year, which were good enough to be converted to businesses.
“When l followed up on some of our previous winners, l was disappointed to find out that none of them pursued their projects, but instead they were working for some different organisations,” stressed Eng.Mhlanga.
Recently, the Government has been encouraging the youths to embrace entrepreneurship as a way of eradicating unemployment in the country, but the mystery of who is willing to put in money to set the project in motion is left untold.
“Nowadays it is very difficult to get financial assistance from the government if you don’t own a certain political card that proves that you an active member of that party despite the fact that one has a brilliant innovation,” said one of the audience members who declined to be named.
“There is nothing wrong in belonging to a certain political party, but it is very wrong to let politics hinder the economic progression of the country.”
“I would love to applaud the sponsors of this competition as it has helped to unearth the innovative minds hidden in these youngsters,” said Nomathamsanqa Ndlovu, who was an audience during the presentations. “Even though it’s baby steps, at least someone did something to promote entrepreneurship in young minds.”
Mjonono’s project focused on utilising the Zimbabwean fly ash which presently constitutes a huge disposal problem in the country.
“Softening water is an essential utility for the power generation, leather processing, food and beverage processing industries,” said Mjonono.
“These companies currently rely on imported synthetic resins and acid based regenerates for the boiler feed water softening process, which proves to be costly for the local industrial sector against the backdrop of high operating expenses.”
As a measure to foster value addition and beneficiation, Mjonono designed a 240m3 per day softening and de-alkalisation plant using zeolites, a chemical synthesised from Zimbabwean fly ash.
The economic evaluation of his project indicated an internal rate of return of 0,24 percent and payback period of 2years.
“Lots of money can be saved, and the importation rate of synthetic resins will also decrease,” said Mjonono. “Utilising the natural resource that is readily available like the fly ash would play the trick.”
“l hope the investors and local industrial sector will see the goodness of the project and will be willing to buy the idea,” concluded Mjonono.
Chengeto Zvavamwe was one of the female students in the department of chemical engineering, who also battled it out in this competition and managed to scoop the second best award.
Zvawamwe proposed the extraction of natural dye from the Eucalyptus plant found in abundance in the city of Mutare situated in Manicaland, Zimbabwe.
“Currently over 732tons of synthetic dyes are produced globally each year and are used in colouring of different material including food media,” said Zvavamwe during her presentation. “However, natural dyes derived from plant and animal sources are an eco-friendly substitute to synthetic dyes.”
Over 31000 hectares of Zimbabwean land is covered in Eucalyptus plantations, mainly the Eucalyptus grandis.
“Dye extracted from eucalyptus grandis is healthier than synthetic dyes which poses health risks like cancer,” emphasised Zvavamwe. “This project can create employment and it is also marketable.”
The closing remarks of Dr Eli Mtetwa, Director of the NUST Technopak organisation, championed unity among different faculties on campus and for people to develop a spirit of working together and desist from spreading negativity.
“l’m very hopeful that this year’s contestants won’t end here, they will pursue and make something out of these projects,” said Eng.Mhlanga, with a broad smile.
The victorious Mjonono along with runner up Zvavamwe are set to represent the University at the upcoming National Engineering Students Awards Competition which will be held at Chinhoyi University of Technology this year.
VOICE calling,the most anticipated feature of WhatsApp has been finally launched on Android. The feature is available in the app’s latest version, but you’ll need another user’s help to activate it. First, you’ll first need the latest version of the Android app, which, at the time of writing is 2.11.561. Then you’ll have to ask a user who has the feature to call you. Once you’ve received the call, answer it for at least 2 seconds and you should be activated. Close the app and reopen it. You should now see a new screen with three columns, including one for calls. You can then call any of your WhatsApp contacts over VoIP through the app. You may not be able to reach people running older versions of the app. It’s certainly not the most efficient way of rolling out a feature, but that may be the point. There’s no word yet on whether the company will charge for calls in the future. Note that from that point you have a limit on the number of people you will be able to activate. If you want CampusMoments to call you,inbox us via twitter, facebook or email.We will need your student ID, and email address to verify that you’re NUST student. ARE MOBILE PHONE NETWORKS THREATENED BY WhatsApp CALLING? ECONET SAYS IT IS NOT!TechZim got in touch with Econet to establish their position on the new WhatsApp calls and the company’s response is that they’re not worried at all. That VoIP apps would come and move the cheese is something they saw long back he says and that they are already well on their way to a reengineered core not reliant on voice revenue. “Econet does not see such new technology as a threat” Econet Zimbabwe Corporate Communications Manager, Rangarirai Mberi told us today in an email. He explained: “We in fact see it as an opportunity to offer new possibilities for our customers. As we have said before, there was already a trend away from traditional income streams such as voice, which Econet had long anticipated. We then took a strategic decision to invest in new income streams, such as data services and many other overlay services. This strategy is already bearing fruit.” In the past couple of years Econet Zimbabwe has successfully introduced services like EcoCash (and a slew products atop it) Broadband bundles, Education products and Insurance amoung other products. How much fruit this has bore to date is ofcourse difficult to measure right now, and will only be clear when the company announces its annual results due weeks from now. However, Britain’s mobile operators are preparing a lobbying attack on internet companies such as WhatsApp, owned by Facebook as part of a major review of communications regulations, amid growing international tensions between telecoms companies and high tech start-up businesses . The mobile operators argue that “over-the-top” internet-based calling and messaging apps such as Whatsapp, Viber and Skype should be subject to the same regulations as their own more traditional telecoms services.Furthermore, they allege that they face unfair competition from internet-based communications services that do not face expensive regulatory hurdles yet rely on their network infrastructure to operate.||| Illustrations from http://thenextweb.com/