President Mugabe, who is the African Union Chairman, co-chaired the Nepad meeting with Senegalese President Macky Sall.
While speaking on the need to beneficiate minerals and advance science and technology in Africa, President Mugabe decried the continued export of ores.
He said, “Africa has enormous mineral resources which have not been adequately harnessed for the sustainable development of the continent.
“Failure to exploit these mineral endowments is attributable to lack of appropriate knowledge and skills, technology and infrastructure, among others. As a result, Africa’s minerals are exported in their raw form.
“It is against this background that the African Union Assembly decided, in 2005, to establish four African institutes of science and technology across the continent. These Centres of Excellence would focus on research and innovation linked to entrepreneurship.
“I wish to inform Your Excellencies that for the Southern Africa region, Zimbabwe is setting up the Pan-African Minerals University of Science and Technology (Pamust), whose focus will be minerals beneficiation and value addition. As a Pan-African institute, the university will open its doors to all African post-graduate students to conduct cutting-edge research.
It is our hope that the Pan-African Minerals University of Science and Technology will produce outstanding African scientists, engineers and technologists who will impact positively on the continent’s economic transformation.”
He underscored the importance of properly resourcing the Centres of Excellence.
“We, once again, call upon the Nepad Agency to shore up and help capacitate and buttress these fledgling science and technology institutions. I am also appealing to the African Development Bank and to the African private business sector to support these Centres of Excellence in the spirit of corporate responsibility and Pan-Africanism.”
President Mugabe’s Government in January 2016 gazetted the Pamust Bill to establish the university, which will train professionals in beneficiation and value addition of minerals.
In terms of the Bill, the university will be a Nelson Mandela Institute of Excellence for the entire continent.
The institution will initially offer programmes in GeoSciences, Mining Engineering, Extractive Metallurgy, Materials Science and Engineering and Minerals Business Studies.
At the Nepad meeting yesterday, President Mugabe highlighted how critical it was for Africa’s leadership to create opportunities for youth and women’s development, saying the current mass migrations to Europe were both economically dangerous as well as embarrassing.
“As our agenda discusses the issues of skills and migration, I wish to observe that the migration of African youths is an issue of serious concern that has to be addressed urgently. Not only does it dent our image as Africa, but also stymies our economic development endeavours.
“We cannot continue to allow a situation where our able-bodied men and women embark on risky and perilous journeys across the oceans in search of a supposedly better world.
“In this context, I wish to call on the Nepad Agency to assist member states in creating facilities to equip our youths with the necessary skills that guarantee them employment opportunities.
“In addition, the Agency is called upon to assist in the creation of small industries and businesses targeting women and youths, so that the need to migrate is minimised. Africa needs to benefit from its critical human resource, the young people, whom we must nurture to enable their meaningful participation to national development efforts.”
Apart from Presidents Mugabe and Sall, also present at the meeting were AU Commission Chair Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Nepad Agency CEO Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, UN Economic Commission Executive Secretary Dr Carlos Lopes, and African Development Bank president Dr Akinwumi Adesina, among other dignitaries.
At the time of writing, delegates had entered a closed session that was expected to discuss, among other things, a progress report on the Nepad Presidential Infrastructure Championship Initiative, skills and migration, infrastructure, agriculture, energy and building partnerships for development.