ZITF 2019 - AU showcases innovation, research and enterprise development geared towards community empowerment and engagement

Story by
Jeanette Dadzie- OAPA Correspondent

A team of seven representatives drawn from across the various units of Africa University travelled to Bulawayo to take part in the 60th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) that ran from the 23rd to the 27th of April 2019. Units represented included the i5Hub, Malaria Research, the Africa University Farm, Student Recruitment and the Office of Advancement and Public Affairs.

Live samples of mosquitos formed part of the Malaria Research exhibition that detailed the complete life cycle of the insect as well as data that demonstrated the impact of Malaria in Zimbabwe and the public health efforts aimed a battling the scourge. Visitors to the stand were impressed at the in-depth knowledge and handling of the live specimens that serve as a tool for knowledge generation and dissemination highlighting Africa University’s contribution and commitment to eradicating Malaria on the continent. AU is home to the largest insect reference unit in the country from which precious information and data are mined and compiled that ultimately feeds into key decision- making and public health interventions in the country to contain and treat incidences of Malaria.

Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Professor Amon Murwira was one of the high level delegates that took great interest in the enterprise development that is currently taking place at AU through the i5Hub and the university farm that has seen two projects emerging that have answered the Ministry and the continents’ call for universities to become key drivers and supporters of industry through the formation of cross- sectoral linkages and partnerships.

The first such project offers farm to table freshness through the production of yogurt and traditional sour milk that are wholly organic, packaged and branded for sale to the Manicaland community. Free samples were distributed to acquaint visitors with its signature creaminess and subtle tart notes that has proven extremely popular in the Manicaland market. Enterprising farmers and women’s cooperatives shared notes with the Farm Manager Mr. Mupofu who in true AU tradition shared details on the production process with a vision of empowering other farmers to add value to their products so as to increase competitiveness and profitability.

The second project on display at the ZITF was the Smart Collar that is being developed through a partnership between the i5Hub and Econet Wireless that is designed to monitor dairy cattle heat stress patterns that are a major cause for decreased dairy yields. Live demonstrations of the technology were showcased with live data accompanying the presentation to communicate the ease of use and accessibility of the information gathered.

Online programmes offered by the institution were in high demand due to the flexibility, affordability and security that Africa University offers to perspective students who showed keen interest. The Africa University stand proved extremely popular reflecting the immense popularity of the Africa University brand as well as attesting to the relevance of the research and enterprise initiatives that formed part of the exhibit.

This years’ ZITF was the one of the biggest in its 60-year history with 100 percent of exhibition space taken by local and international exhibitors. The Diamond Jubilee edition of the exhibition showcase ran under the theme, “Propagating Industrial Growth through Trade and Investment”.22 international exhibitors representing 16 countries were present these being, Belarus, Botswana, Ethiopia, Germany, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, United Arab   Emirates, the United States of America   and Zambia.