Minister of Higher Education, Hon. Prof. Nkandu Luo, addressing the Agro Studies Graduation Ceremony, in Jerusalem, Israel.

The Minister of Higher Education, Prof. Nkandu Luo, led a team comprising representatives from her Ministry, the University of Zambia and the Copperbelt University to a series of engagements with strategic Institutions in Israel from 2nd to 8th September 2017. The University of Zambia Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Luke Mumba, and his counterpart from the Copperbelt University, Prof. Naison Ngoma, and their representative staff comprised the Minister’s delegation.

Speaking at this event, Agro Studies Capacity Building Executive Director, Asher Tzur, explained that this programme was a testimony that agriculture, when run as a business using modern techniques, has the potential to create employment for many young people in dairy farming, animal farming, horticulture and crop farming among the many areas of agricultural investment. He explained that students on the programme were attached to demonstration farms where practical skills combined with class training were delivered.

He noted that the training at Agro Studies Capacity building had successfully recorded 7,000 graduates over the last twelve years. Thus, the September 2017 graduation ceremony, held in Jerusalem, saw 1,200 students from eight countries with 20 of them were from Zambia’s Copperbelt University who completed the programme.

In her address at the Agro Studies Capacity Building graduation ceremony held on 3rd September 2017, Prof Luo made a commitment to increase the number of Zambian students participating in the 11 months practical internship programme with the University of Zambia and other tertiary educational institutions expected to send students.

The State of Israel has a long standing bilateral relationship with the Government of the Republic of Zambia. The University of Zambia stands as a beacon of the warm relationship between the two countries as it was constructed by an Israeli company, Benon Construction Company, which has now been in operation for ninety years. During a visit to the said company, the Minister’s delegation presented some of the commercial and academic infrastructure development plans envisaged at the two national Universities. It was agreed that more detailed proposals on selected projects be provided for evaluation.

The Minister’s delegation also held bilateral discussions with Tel Aviv University and Technion University of Science and Technology in Haifa. A memorandum of understanding was entered into between the Ministry of Higher Education on the one hand and University of Tel Aviv on the other. In addition, the University of Zambia entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Tel Aviv University. The partnership with Tel Aviv University has opened a new stream of collaboration with all Schools and Units at the University of Zambia.

The University of Zambia Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Luke Mumba, explained that through this MoU, the University would seek to build capacity at the Technology Development and Advisory Unit, implement an interdisciplinary student exchange and research laboratory initiative, build capacity through masters and PhD training particularly in the newly set up Schools, namely Public Health, Health Sciences, Nursing Sciences and the Graduate School of Business.

The University of Zambia Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Luke Mumba exchange the memorandum of understanding with Tel Aviv University Vice-President, Prof. Raanan Rein.

The visit to Technion University – Israel Institute of Technology revealed the importance of investment in science and technology education and need to strengthen alumni and advancement activities as a revenue stream. Technion has anchored its niche in Engineering, Natural Sciences, Medicine and Architecture and has 18 faculties and 51 research centres. Arising from a record of outstanding work, Technion is ranked 6th in the world for creating the most successful technology innovation ecosystem after MIT, Stanford, Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial College. With a US$400 million annual budget, Technion acknowledged that the same is funded significantly by alumni, corporate donations and income from start-up companies that spin off from Technion. Prof. Mumba said, "The visit to Technion was important to Government and the University of Zambia because it has laid the ground for benchmarking."

The Minister's delegation also held discussions with Vital Capital Fund, a US$350 million private equity fund that invests in opportunities which simultaneously enhance the quality of life of communities in rapidly developing nations, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa, while also delivering attractive financial returns to investors.

Following discussions with High Tech Investments of the United Kingdom, the delegation agreed to work through a proposal to set up a centre of excellence on technical Skills development.

Further discussions were held with the Mitrelli Group. Discussions with Mitrelli revealed that the organisation works in collaboration with different governments to create a full value chain of solutions ranging from financing to working through the project rollout. The delegation was presented with opportunities for collaboration with the Mitrelli subsidiaries namely Focus Education, Agricultiva – the agriculture research and training arm, Gognito the information technology solutions provider, PROMED International, the subsidiary in health care projects, Ossi Yeto a subsidiary of Mitrellli responsible for energy projects, and Aquafish the subsidiary that is active in fishery, carrying out aquaculture, development of fish feed and fishing supervision projects.  In all these opportunities, it was agreed that the two Universities submit detailed proposals in specific sectors for consideration.

By Kennedy Msusa, Office of the Vice-Chancellor