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AU i5 Hub continues to generate interest and set the pace for innovation in Higher Education in Zimbabwe

27 June 2018


The Africa University i5 Hub received guests from Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) that is situated in the city of Masvingo, the country’s 5th largest city. The representatives from GZU’s Computer Sciences division who were interested in seeing the AU innovation model in action along with its various applications and impact were intrigued by the fact that the AU i5 Hub is one that welcomes and serves budding entrepreneurs from the surrounding community as well as its campus community and that its model is one of inclusiveness and cross disciplinary cooperation.


I5 Hub manager Ms. Yollanda Washaya delivered a scintillating presentation to the delegation outlining the 5 pillars that form the core structure of the Hub’s operations that include Ideation, Incubation, Innovation, Intellectual Property and Industrialization that also mirrors the entrepreneurship cycle. She said of the Hub,

“We have been in viable operation since October 2017 but the strides we have made and the interest we are generating is tremendous indicating that the need for innovation hubs and centres of collaboration is there in our country and region. To date, we have projects focusing on public health, climate change and agriculture. Our aim is to break down silos creating an environment where information and ideas are shared.”


Addressing a common misconception that innovation is only viable in industries that are heavily reliant on technology, Ms. Washaya went on to say,

“As Africa University, we knew that we needed to redefine the concept of innovation and tailor it to one that serves our needs, and our vision for the direction of innovation in Africa. Our aim is to generate solutions that transform the way we do business and improve the quality of life for all of the people that live on our continent and world.”


The Hub also showcased its extensive business development model which was designed to assist young entrepreneurs realize their vision understanding the risks, opportunities and how to anticipate and mitigate any potential pitfalls. Students form a large part of the innovation ecosystem at Africa University with the business model open to scrutiny, analysis and improvement by students taking business oriented programmes ensuring that the Hub remains relevant and up-to date constantly evolving in accordance with continental and global trends along with the many brilliant ideas that constantly stream into the Hub.


The i5 Hub hosts a number of training workshops the most current being the training of stakeholders in the use of Python software that is a high level programming language that can be used in general purpose programming for the development of web, business, numeric and education applications.
Staying true to its roots and identity of cooperation and partnership, the i5 Hub has been engaged by Econet Wireless, Steward Bank, Telone, the Mutare City Council and counting and is on course to work with other organizations and universities within Zimbabwe and the region.


Akim Monthali who led the GZU delegation said of his visit,

“This was a real eye opener. We had no idea that an entire university could function as an innovation hub and incubator of innovation regardless of the disciplines or background of those involved. Space and physical location do not define innovation and should never be a limiting factor. The space that the i5 Hub is operating from is so small but the impact is incredible.”

 

Caleb Manjese, another representative from GZU said of his experience,

“Before coming here, I was under the impression that innovation was only confined to science but I have been enlightened and understand that innovation is an inclusive process that requires cooperation.”


The i5 Hub has been privileged to host delegations from the Government of Zimbabwe, Vice Chancellors from universities across the country, the European Union, the diplomatic corps in Zimbabwe, non-governmental organizations and the corporate world as the story of Africa University and its mandate to transform Africa unfolds through its steadfast vision and commitment to excellence and living up to its well-known and deserved reputation of being a university of “firsts”, always innovating , always inspiring.

 

Story By
Jeanette Dadzie