On November 8th and 9th Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) commemorate it’s 40 Years of Research Cooperation between Sweden and Tanzania at Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam.
The commemoration brought together the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), supported institutions and researchers from both countries. It was an opportunity for Tanzania to express appreciation to the Swedish government and their people for the support that has been provided to the Government and the people of Tanzania through individual researchers, research institutions and higher learning institutions in Tanzania over many years. But also it was an opportunity for Tanzania to show, evaluate and assess the impact of the support to the institutions and its reflection to the Tanzanian people.
Knowledge creation is a very important ingredient of the development of any society or country including Tanzania. At this time when Tanzania is striving to become a middle-income economy country, the concept of knowledge economy is very crucial. Research creates knowledge, which is vital for the future development of our country. Research helps to understand how things could be done properly, hence, vital in any development planning and policymaking. On the part of science and technology, research is mandatory to know the right strategies, techniques, equipment and resources required in order to achieve positive results. In industry, research is required in order to understand the appropriate technologies to be used for best service or product.
The cooperation between Sweden and Tanzania in research dates back to 1977 when SIDA/SAREC started offering support to the then National Research Council (UTAFITI), which is the predecessor of today’s Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH).
SIDA’s support to higher learning institutions in Tanzania began in 1995 at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), which has to date, been the major beneficiary. During the period of 1995 to 1997, SIDA support was directed to individual small research units at the UDSM. The establishment of the Directorate of Research and Publications in 1998 provided a focal point for the coordination of research activities at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM).
Since 1998, SIDA has supported UDSM in four different phases namely 1998 - 2000 involving a total of 17 projects and amounting to Swedish Krona (SEK) 80.5 million, which is equivalent to 21 billion Tanzania Shillings (TZS). The second phase was from 2001-2004 of which 15 projects were implemented with a total amount of SEK 84.5 million, equivalent to TZS 22 billion; Other phases were from 2004-2009 with a total of 12 projects costing SEK 155 million, equivalent to TZS 40 billion; and 2009-2013 extended to June, 2015 with 13 projects and a total cost of SEK 138.3 million, equivalent to TZS 36 billion. However other institutions also have benefitted from the Swedish institutional support. Those institutions are Ardhi University (ARU) and Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), which started participating in SIDA programmes when they were constituent part of the UDSM; and the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH).
The important aspect of the SIDA’s research support to Tanzania is the integration of postgraduate training in the implementation of the research projects. The approach enabled the country to achieve development of researchers, and at the same time producing research outputs. As a result, a huge number of highly trained researchers at Master and PhD levels in Tanzanian and Swedish Universities have been produced over the years. This is one of the biggest success stories of SIDA support to Tanzanian institutions as it has resulted into a significant increase of Postgraduate student output of 537 students (455 MSc. and 82 PhD) from 1998 to 2009 at UDSM only where 263 were females accounting to 48.9%. From 2009 to June 2015, 80 PhD and 232 MSc students were enrolled in postgraduate studies.
The Swedish Support to Research Cooperation, covering the period of 2015-2020, a total of four institutions namely COSTECH, ARU, MUHAS and UDSM are being supported, with a total budget of SEK 300 million equivalent to TZS 78.3 billion, distributed as follows: COSTECH (SEK 42 million), ARU (SEK 30 million), MUHAS (SEK 82 million), and UDSM (SEK 150 million). The continued generous support of SIDA to the Tanzanian institutions is an expression of the trust SIDA has on their research capacity and my Ministry highly acknowledges this.
Following are few examples of outcomes resulted from the support from SIDA:
- The establishment of Mkwawa and Dar es Salaam Colleges of Education;
- Transformation of the Faculty of Commerce into today’s strong University of Dar es Salaam Business School (UDBS);
- Strengthening of the multi-disciplinary and regional centre of marine science research at the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS);
- Establishment of the National Postdoctoral Research Framework through COSTECH; and
- Establishment of the knowledge management laboratory at COSTECH
The Ministry in valuing the importance of Research to the development of our Country will make a close follow up on the implementation of the SIDA Research Cooperation Support for the period of 2015-2020, in order to ensure that, the programme is implemented according to its plan and that the expected results are fully achieved.
The story is brought from the opening speech presented by Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology on behalf of the Minister Honourable Prof. Joyce Lazaro Ndalichako of respective Ministry.