The University of Zambia has scooped first prize in the training service provider category at this year's Zambia International Trade Fair in Ndola. And Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary Technical Services Mr Joel Kamoko has implored the university to take the lead in developing innovations that will help achieve economic development.
Speaking when he visited the UNZA stand, Mr Kamoko expressed happiness with what was displayed on the stand and urged the institution to focus more on solution-based exhibits. Mr Kamoko's comment came in the wake of several projects the university was conducting which were also exhibited at the Trade Fair.
One of the projects which is being done by an MSc student in the Department of Chemistry is focusing on the development of an ultra-thin filtration membrane for quality water production, while the other one being done by the Department of Physics is looking at circular economy through recycling of electronic waste.
Mr Kamoko noted that both projects were of great importance to economic development and urged the university to look for partnerships through funding so that the two projects can be scaled up at the commercial level.
"These are the innovations we need, we have paid very little attention to e-waste, for instance, and this project can be a solution to this problem. Similarly, water purification is important when we come up with such projects we will be addressing Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 6 which talks about clean and sanitation for all," he said.
And explaining the reason for coming up with such a project, Mr Kaela Nonde the MSc student said water pollution has remained one of the greatest challenges in fulfilling SDG 6 to most governments.
He said due to the demand for quality water, the Department of Chemistry has embarked on producing ultra-thin membranes with anti-fouling and antibacterial properties that will make the membrane last for a longer period thereby reducing the cost of water production.
"These membranes are able to inhibit the growth of bacteria thereby preventing fouling hence the life span of the membrane increases which reduces the maintenance cost. It is also able to remove heavy metals such as lead ions," he said.
And explaining the importance of recycling electronic waste, Mr Wilson Chibwe from the Department of Physics said the project was important because it will help to prevent contamination of the environment. He said the department has embarked on salvaging components from e-waste and reproducing other usable equipment such as lamps that can be used both at local and commercial levels.
"The emphasis of this project basically is to save the environment from depletion. Most of the materials used in e-waste are collected from the environment but if we recycle this electronic waste it means that we will be preventing not only the depletion of the environment but also we will be creating jobs because for us to get the components we want we need people to bring this e-waste and in turn we will pay them, which also responds to this year's theme which talks about stimulating economic development through partnership, trade and investment, " he said.
Mr Chibwe said in order to scale up this project the department intends to partner with various stakeholders such as Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and many other cooperating partners that may be interested in working with the university.
Meanwhile, the Acting Vice-Chancellor Prof Anne Sikwibele congratulated the Trade Fair committee which was led by the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof Boniface Namangala for the job well done and for scooping the first position.