AfricaLive: How would you describe the identity of the university? What’s the role of the organization in creating the next generation of skilled professionals that Malawi and Africa require to prosper?
Prof. Address Malata: Malawi University of Science and Technology was established by an Act of Parliament in 2012, but started to admit students in 2014. It was established with the mandate of fostering and creating an opportunity for science, technology, and innovation to make a difference in this country and beyond. Science, technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation are the main issues we are focusing on and making sure that we use technology that is relevant to the context of Malawi and Africa. We are looking at manufacturing engineering, textile and biomedical engineering. We have decided not to offer programs that are generic, but to offer programs that will fill a gap in our country. Our focus is based on diagnostics because many of our people die because of poor or no diagnosis.
AfricaLive: What are some of your personal strategy goals that you wish to accomplish in your leadership ?
Prof. Address Malata: Within Malawi University of Science and Technology, I pushed for science among girls and got a science camp for the girls every year. When I was leading the College of Nursing, I wanted to ensure that the young people should not only be educated as nurses but also be able to make a difference in people’s lives and possess good character. I also wanted to ensure that nursing becomes a powerful voice in Malawi and beyond, so I took some leadership roles beyond Malawi. I have served as the president of midwives in the whole world and wanted people to know that nurses and midwives can make a difference in people’s lives. I assist young people to become independent and dependable citizens. We have programs for the rural young people that do not have many opportunities so that they too can prosper. I speak in many conferences globally, and I use such opportunities to speak on behalf of women because they too, can make a difference. We are also putting up an industrial park that will provide opportunities for our students to practice here in school.
Africalive: What is the role of the university in providing ecosystems for entrepreneurs across Africa to thrive?
Prof. Address Malata: Universities have got a huge role to play to push for entrepreneurship. Partnership with industries is key because you cannot teach these issues on your own. We invite industries on campus and also attract entrepreneurs who have made progress and have stories to tell. The idea of us linking with industries is because they have got some components that universities do not have. We have involved industries in developing our own curriculum/ strategic plan for the university; because we know they know more about entrepreneurship. We moved forward to develop a post-graduate program in entrepreneurship, and another one on innovation. For you to be a good entrepreneur, you need to have some innovative ability. We have decided to come up with an innovation garage which we are giving graduates as well as those people in the industry who want to start up an idea and start to think about what they want. In the innovation garage, it takes a little bit more time to make sure you really develop a plan that can actually be supported by the bank. By creating that space (the innovation garage), you are creating an opportunity for someone to be peer-reviewed by colleagues in the same garage because they talk about ideas that sharpen their skills before they can reach out for a funder.
We also decided to work with some international organizations looking to support young people with innovative ideas, to see how we can grow those ideas to evolve them into something that can be sold.
AfricaLive: What would your advice be and what is your secret to creating awareness, get more funds and make impact through resource mobilization?
Prof. Address Malata: There are times that you allow someone to take the lead because you know that they are experienced. Patience is needed for you to grow your profile. Ability to let experts lead as you learn is something most people are not willing to do. You also need to be focused on your niche and strengths. The other issue is accountability because when you get the resources,show that you are responsible, use them appropriately, and provide feedback to the sponsor. Another problem is that Africa has to learn to work within Africa. We need to have a relationship within our region not always looking to Europe and America because we have so many strengths and we should not underrate each other. We need to make a good plan that will make students from all over come to Malawi University of Science and Technology.
AfricaLive: If there is one person that inspires you or someone that you would wish to create a partnership with or work together, who could that be?
Prof. Address Malata: I really want to meet Oprah and Michelle Obama because I need someone I can share my dreams with. I do run a scholarship for the students in the university so I would tell them to help me with the girls so that they don’t drop out of school.
AfricaLive: How confident are you in the future of Malawi University of Science and Technology, Malawi and Africa as a continent?
Prof. Address Malata: I am confident in the context of Malawi University of Science and Technology because as I said, we know that we are meeting Malawi’s Growth and Development Strategy. Malawi is looking at technology, science and innovation, which we are doing as a university. We have considered the Agenda 2063, The Africa We Want, and ensured that all our programs fit in. We are working with investors in Europe and Investor College London because they have enough experience and are able to do something that is relevant and competitive. Most government entities in Malawi always come to us, recognizing what Malawi University of Science and Technology is doing. This gives us the confidence that we are on the right path.