A GOVERNMENT official says Indian manufacturing firms must train African students, including Zimbabweans, to create and use machinery back home.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA IN NEW DELHI, India
Speaking at the 12th edition of the Confederation of Industries of India- Exim Bank of India Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership workshop held in that country on Thursday, Industry and Commerce deputy minister Chiratidzo Mabuwa said India needed to support “made in Africa” initiatives.
“There are many donors who come to us with machines that we do not even know. They come and dump them in our continent and we struggle with spare parts and so on. It will be more beneficial to have you guys recruit our students in your various companies and train them. Not only train them at tertiary institutions, but also have them placed for internships in your companies,” she said.
“Currently as it is after students have studied, they are told — ‘bye’, — yet there is nowhere where you are going to practice what you have learnt. Imagine if you offered students from Africa, who would have studied maybe mechanical engineering and offer them placement at Tata, for example, they get trained and learn how the company runs. When they return to Africa, they become Tata’s ambassadors.”
She said such actions could result in these students starting businesses or creating local machinery, thus cutting import costs.
India is Zimbabwe’s fourth largest source of machinery imports, accounting for 8% of all equipment in the country.
The need for a better understanding into using machinery comes as 18% of manufacturers carried out new investments in capital last year.
As such, sourcing machines and spare parts locally could greatly reduce the costs manufacturers incur in investing in capital.
Mabuwa said out of the 50 000 Indian scholarships that were given to African students, nearly 90% were skewing more towards social sciences which needed to shift to sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem).
“You have policies that are ‘made in India’ and we also have policies that are ‘made in Africa’ because why should we be the exporter of primary goods and be a net importer of almost everything?” she queried.
National Skills Development Co-operation executive director and chief operating officer, Jayant Krishna said Mabuwa’s appeal for Stem scholarships was very valid.
“What we will do is engage Confederation of Indian Industries and put forward our requests to ministries responsible for the 50 000 scholarships that they should earmark a certain quota for Stem education so we just do not fund humanities education. If you look at solving the problem that many African countries have, I think Stem education would go a long way,” he said.
“Maybe we also need to engage the Ministry of External Affairs so that after students study they should not bid ‘bye’ right away, but at least for a certain period must intern in companies here that can be leveraged back into your countries.”
Mabuwa invited manufacturing firms present during the proceedings to a discussion with her on how they could invest in Zimbabwe.