As the search for possible replacements for tobacco as a major foreign exchange earner continues, Malawi Polytechnic principal Professor Grant Kululanga on Friday asked Malawians to capitalise on knowledge generation as one way of raising money rather than concentrating on physical assets.
Kululanga was speaking in Blantyre when the Malawi Institution of Engineers (MIE) honoured him for becoming the first Malawian engineer to become professor in the University of Malawi.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Let me say that the economy used to depend on physical things such as land, water, crops or physical assets, in general. That has moved to knowledge generation and there is a lot of money we can make from patents and innovation by capitalising on knowledge generation.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Malawians are very good at generation of knowledge. Within the engineering sector, the Afridev Pump was originally designed, fabricated and thought by Malawians, but we werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t clever to patent it. It went elsewhere [and] they patented it and we are buying the same product whose ideas were generated here.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That already shows that within the country, the potential for generating knowledge is there and that we can make a lot of financial contribution to the economy through generation of knowledge. Why are other countries prospering? They donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have the physical resources underground. All they have is their brains,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Kululanga.
MIE president Dr Matthews Mtumbuka, while agreeing with Kululanga, challenged the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s engineers to play their rightful roles in national development.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This way, we will be able to multiply or integrate the impact of engineering on national development. And this responsibility rests with us, the engineers. No one will give it to us, no one will remind us and no one will beg us to do our job or take up our responsibility,Ã¢â‚¬Â added Mtumbuka.
Malawian engineers in the 1970s designed a motor vehicle called Zonse which has since disappered from the market. The countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s roads are now awash with makes such as Toyota, Nissan, Ford and many others whose purchase is contributing significantly to the shortage of forex.
During the same time, Malawian engineers were also manufacturing Nzeru Radios which are no longer on the market and the country now relies on imported radios.