An Industrial Park in Roma

An Industrial Park in Roma

ROMA – As preparations for the proposed National University of Lesotho-Lesotho National Development Corporation (NUL-LNDC) Industrial Park gather steam, here are some of the architectural designs for the factory shells and warehouses that will occupy the park.
The architectural designs team is led by the NUL Planning Officer, Mamotuba Letseka-Hloai, and her architectural assistant Teboho Makhutla.
Very soon, the NUL will not only be a place where students’ graduate but will be a place where businesses will also ‘graduate’.

The Industrial Park, which is being developed by both NUL and LNDC, will be situated in the beautiful Roma Valley.
The aim is for the park to hold factories of the future. These will be the kind of factories which are constantly changing on the basis of new knowledge and innovation.
Such businesses are said to be knowledge-based.
“We want to turn the Roma Valley into the Silicon Valley of Africa,” the university says.
“Just as the Silicon Valley was created by and is constantly recreating Stanford University, the proposed “Roma

Valley” will be created by NUL and it will, in turn, recreate the NUL.”
Today, we are going to remind you briefly about what the proposed NUL-LNDC Industrial Park is, the model on which it is based, what it hopes to accomplish and why it is an idea that will surely shake up Africa’s perception of innovation.
The reason behind the NUL-LNDC Industrial Park is very straightforward. For far too long, Lesotho has put itself on a permanent “life-support unit” by importing more than 90 percent (if not more) of its needs from outside the country.
While the country surely deserves a pat on the shoulder for attracting manufacturing industries, that was not a solid basis for a thriving economy.

The result is a high degree of joblessness (or low paying jobs) that affects us all. So it’s time for a rethink. That rethinking won’t happen by chance — hence the idea of the NUL-LNDC Industrial Park.
For those folks who have been taught that a university has no business in doing business, a bit of reading about the idea of “an entrepreneurial university” won’t hurt. In there, you will realise that an entrepreneurial university is a university of the future.
It is a university of the 21st century. It is a university which is seeking, or is at, what the Zimbabweans call Education 5.0 (you may not be aware of it but Zimbabwean universities are undergoing a silent revolution to achieve Education 5.0).

Here is the hierarchy: Education 1.0 (Teaching), Education 2.0 (Teaching and Research) Education 3.0 (Teaching, Research and Community Service), Education 4.0 (Teaching, Research, Community Service and Innovation) and, finally, Education 5.0 (Teaching, Research, Community Service, Innovation and Industrialisation).
A traditional university is trapped in Education 3.0.
So the NUL has since taught itself that in order to achieve Education 5.0 and achieve industrialisation, there is a need to keep itself out of talk-shops so it can get the real stuff done.
The whole formula goes this way.

First, products and services are already being developed in the NUL laboratories. This is why the university is also busy developing a Product Development and Testing Laboratory concept and the NUL School of Engineering.
Those will enhance its capacity to research and design better products.
Then, commercially promising products and services will be incubated. That is why the university has already created the NUL Innovation Hub.
Plans are underway to expand the Innovation Hub to accommodate more than 100 businesses at any given moment in time.

Unlike traditional innovation/incubation hubs, “We don’t incubate entrepreneurs, we incubate businesses”.
After incubation, the businesses will graduate from the Innovation Hub to the NUL-LNDC Industrial Park where large scale manufacturing and provision of services will be practised. Again, think about this; the NUL will soon be a place where not only students graduate. It will be a place where businesses also graduate.
That will be a really exciting day.
Plans have already been made to ensure that although these graduating businesses will be private and independent titans, the NUL will have some shareholding in many of them. This is so that the university can further finance its research work that will create more businesses.

So where are we, in terms of the Industrial Park development, in the larger scheme of things?
We reported a few months ago that a Town Planning study of possible locations for the Industrial Park had already been completed by the NUL Town Planners led by Professor Resetselemang Leduka.
Now the present architectural plans are almost done. The next stage will be the development of quantity surveys. There are many more steps and we will update you in due time.
Africa is lagging behind because we don’t make our own things for goodness sake. We don’t even manufacture sweets.
The NUL-LNDC Industrial Park is geared to change all that, and in the most interesting way possible.
Stay tuned!

Own Correspondent

 

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