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Role of the university in economic diversification
The urgent need for economic diversification has come to the fore again, with the recent utterances by the IMF. It stands to reason and is consistent with reality that no one sector will replace oil and gas.
The strategy forward must take into consideration job creation, foreign exchange earnings and, as much as is possible, a reduction of the foreign exchange expenditure. In other words, we need to develop companies that provide reasonably well-paying jobs, in order to maintain or improve the standard of living, and which are focused on selling products and services that can earn foreign exchange.
To achieve the above, we need to graduate from the status of importers and users of technology to that of innovators, inventors and creators of technologies. This cannot and will not happen overnight and thus careful planning and implementation over the short, medium and long terms are prerequisites.
The first step then must be a harmonised approach by all stakeholders; one that facilitates articulation and integration of education, skills and R&D and its commercialisation. Put plainly, academia, government and industry must work together to foster innovation and economic development.