Innovation Expo set for Pioneer Mall

Innovation Expo set for Pioneer Mall

ROMA – THE National University of Lesotho International Science, Technology and Innovation Expo (NULISTICE) will be held at Pioneer Mall next week. As if that is not good enough already, the school in the Roma Valley will also bring you the Africa-EU Renewable Energy Research and Innovation Symposium (RERIS) 2018 in the same week.

NUL will be joined by the Department of Science and Technology in the mission.
“We are on the road to producing a diversified portfolio of graduates,” said Professor Nqosa Mahao, the NUL Vice-Chancellor, even as he leads the efforts to reinvent the esteemed university.

Why not pay a short visit to the Pioneer Mall to see the innovators of the Roma Valley and the innovators of the Kingdom in the Sky and what they have to offer? You will like what you see.

Here are the dates for you: January 23-26 2018. During the same days, two international conferences will be happening at the same time: NULSITICE 2018 and RERIS 2018 at the ’Manthabiseng Convention Centre, one needs to pay registration fee to be part of these conferences.

“We are not alone as NULISTICE,” says the spokesperson for the event, Dr Mosotho George.
Actually, our sessions will be running in parallel with Africa EU Renewable Energy Research and Innovation Symposium.
The conference has attracted eminent scientists and international scholars from all over the world.

It is in this corner that renewable energy, science, technology and innovation will be the buzzwords of the week.
“At the conference, we get to the basics, at the expo, we mainly demonstrate application,” Dr Mosotho said.
But where does it all come from?

It started when the NUL Management and Academics and students decided it was time to rebrand, and to shift gears.
“In our time in the good old days,” said one NUL lecturer, “we used to be “educated for being educated.
Education used to be a vehicle that separated us from the rest of the society to make us the elite.

You just needed to speak good English, get a good and often government job and do a clerical work to be a model of success.”
It is that laidback mentality which has ensured Lesotho is yet to produce a teaspoon, a box of matches and a toothpick.
“Times have changed,” he continued. “Today’s young educated people can no longer be channelled into government positions — jobs have literally dried up!”

But wait a second, that could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
Here is why.

New ways of thinking had to be developed.
But the question always was, how so, in a school that has little, to start with?

“Well, we realised that it was not true that we had little, actually, we had a lot! NUL has, over the years, accumulated knowledge, skills, experience, and infrastructure, the kind of which makes it the most suitable to kick-start the innovation of its kind in Lesotho,” she said.
But that was not enough.

“We had to transform our thinking.”
In her view, African academics have one really crippling deficiency, that of thinking too BIG.
Instead of looking for simple solutions, they want to go to the moon and study the stars.
“There is nothing fundamentally wrong with that, after all, we are academics, we are trained such that our thinking knows no bounds,” she said.
“However, how could we solely focus on the lofty when the bellies are empty and we know it?”
“Should we be solely grappling with lofty theories while our people are moving with empty stomachs and the youth unemployment is at an all-time high?”
“Our collective conscience said No!”
She said they made a conscious decision to start small and, more importantly, to celebrate little successes.
In the end, they learned something, “little successes are anything but little.”
“It is those little successes, which we celebrate day in and day out, that have encouraged us to move to greater heights.”
Here is an example.

Most of you know something about the famed NUL egg incubator, dubbed Pius XII.
The drivers of that successful machine have enough expertise to be making robots (or even sending rockets to the moon), given enough funding.
But they decided to settle for an egg incubator.

The result was an automated engineering masterpiece that would easily beat many foreign-made incubators and, most importantly, solve local problems.

“We realised that many poultry farmers bought low quality but expensive incubator machines which they failed to repair at the first breakdown due to high costs of repairs,” said the developers.

Now, the same guys are making artificial driers which will dry your fruits fast!
“Why should we import dried fruits if we could make them here in Lesotho at low cost?” they asked rhetorically.
They are one among hundreds of examples at the NUL.

So be at the Pioneer Mall next week and note first-hand, the ingenuity of the Innovators of the Roma Valley, and the Innovators of the Kingdom in the Sky. You will love it.

Own Correspondent

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