Ms. Chikondi Shaba, NEF Ambassador for Malawi, is an Analytical Chemist, and a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at Chancellor College, University of Malawi.
She is also engaged as a water chemist for the Malawi chapter in an international research project called Hidden Crisis: “Unlocking of the Ground Water Potential for the Poor” (UPGro). She co-founded an initiative “Malawi Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics” in 2016.
Since independence in 1964, Malawian schools delighted in arts subjects more than science. As years progressed, the Ministry of Education promoted the teaching of Science, however, compared to the arts, less hours were apportioned to the teaching of Science at primary schools and progressively to Secondary and Higher Education Institutions. 1970s, 80s to the 2nd millennium (Y2K), most Malawian brilliant minds pursued Pure Sciences leading to Chemists, Biologists, Physicists or leapfrogged to the College of Medicine. Others, who preferred the applicability of the science concepts
opted to study engineering. This therefore derived a generation of theoretical and applied
scientists in Malawi fitting many fields of endeavour.
Though this was the case, research skills, levels and speed were relatively low, partly because of lack of computer facilities and connectivity to Internet. No wonder, there was a shift in interest between Y2K and 2010, where huge interest was invested in ICTs and familiarization of the same to exploit it for the enrichment of research in science and other fields. It was termed the technology era. The Ministry of Education changed to Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
In this vein, several technologies are being reported, performed at various levels of education, age, gender and facility. These technologies include but are not limited to energy, communication, entertainment, and financial systems solutions, locomotives, clean water, construction and many more. Gender main streaming is being promoted, where there is high activism in support of Young Women and Adolescent Girls (YWAG) in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) with some winning prestigious prizes and awards like the Next Einstein Ambassador.
The technologies are exhibited in various fora, and before disclosure, some of them are being protected through the Malawian IP system under the Patents and Trademarks Act.
A Registered Trustees of the Inventors Association of Malawi has been founded awaiting final approval of the country's President and then a launch.
These strides have been noted by the Government of Malawi and as such, most of its ministries, departments and agencies have begun to acknowledge that there exist levels of innovation in Malawi. To this effect, the Ministry of Education Science and Technology has added Innovation to its name, in order to capture the captivating phrase: Science,
Technology and Innovation (STI). To truly make an impact in STIs, there is need to intensify beyond the classroom/lecture room activities like the Science Week, Science Fares, Workshops, and other Design Competitions or Tech Fares.