AAU’s Annual Research and Fairs Week Officiates

Addis Ababa University (AAU) officially opened its annual Research, Job, Technology and Book fairs week, which stays from 15th-18th of May 2023 with the theme of “Fostering Socio-Economic Development at the Core of Innovation and Entrepreneurship” at Nelson Mandela Hall, Main Campus (Sidist Kilo).

Honorable Ministers, government officials, AAU President and Higher officials, researchers, students and other concerned bodies attended the ceremony that followed by visiting fairs exhibition displayed in the Main Campus.

This year’s research week has been organized by the College of Business and Economics of the University that will be held in three sub teams: ddevelopment dynamics in Ethiopian social and economic perspectives; innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems in Ethiopia; and human capital development, foreign relations and entrepreneurship followed by discussions to address some of the key current development issues in Ethiopia.

Each College and institute has also organized its own panel discussions, presentations and exhibitions to finalize with accredited awards for best practices.

During the week, new research outputs will be presented; new technological inventions and entrepreneurship ideas will be announced; associating students with employer organizations will be facilitated and at the 15th book fair, books published by AAU Press and by invited private publishers are availed for sale.

Fitsum Assefa (PhD), Minister for the Ministry of Planning and Development on her opening speech said that research is the backbone of progress through rigorous inquiry, critical thinking and experimentation to uncover new insights and challenge existing paradigms.

Achieving transformative change and creating a brighter future for all require a collaborative effort by the government, private sector, higher education and research institutions. Such collaborative and concerted efforts are more crucial now than ever because of the new face of the global dynamism and unpredictability, and the frequent climate, health and economic shocks,” she said.

According to Dr. Fitsum, Ethiopia has set an ambitious vision of becoming an “African Beacon of Prosperity” through its Ten-Years Development Plan (TYDP).

She added that the annual research week of AAU is instrumental to foster University-Industry linkages to advance economic transformation in various development domains, including economic, social, transformational governance and environmental perspectives.

The Ministry of Planning and Development is committed to collaborate with higher education institutions in Ethiopia to better deliver on its mandates, such as initiating policies, strategies, and laws related to development, Dr. Fitsum mentioned.

Professor Tassew Woldehanna, President of AAU briefed about the university and expressed that it  is one of the research intensive universities and got acknowledgement from African Research University Alliance in 2015 as well as from the FDRE Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

He stressed that the great achievements of AAU have been succeed due to the expanded research platforms for students and staff which has raised the publication to more than 300 peer review articles, increasing the number of high ranked professors, expanding facilities and increasing quality of collaborative works with more than 200 universities nationally and globally.

According to Prof. Tassew, AAU is in its way to intend in its autonomy to revitalize and to expand its academic, research and community engagement to the highest achievable level. Accordingly, AAU will pass through several gradual changes to maintain and improve its status through its dedicated academic and high caliber administrative staff, he added.

This year’s research and fair week is very important and timely as our country has passed through several crises which have affected the economic and social issues of the community,” he liaised.

 He stated that Students’ Career Development Center of AAU is also thriving to provide students to the 21st century skills (soft skills training), increase competency and practical skills, understanding of industry culture, code of conduct, moral ethics, work voluntarily, self-awareness and entrepreneur skills. More than 20,000 students have taken training so far in various areas of skills since 2018, Prof. Tassew further highlighted.

Ahmed Shide, Minster for Ministry of Finance addressed in his keynote speech that Ethiopia has made significant socio-economic progresses including improved export performance and increased private investment under challenging circumstances.

However said the Minster, the pace of the growth has been slowed down in recent years due to the overlapping shocks like invading locust, COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts, draught, financing gap, global geopolitical tensions which caused renewed trade, disruptions, rising prices of food, fuel and fertilizers which dragged the country’s growth and undermined the development of productive capacities.

He emphasized that these challenge need to be addressed through actionable research to inform evidence-based policy making and proactive economic management. Hence, AAU’s annual research week will be expected to generate policy-oriented research to support the policy making efforts of the government and give recommendations to address the challenges.

Ahmed further attributed that AAU is well placed to provide a coordinated technical support to the government and the private sector in economic research, training and advisory services. “The Ministry of Finance is committed to strengthen its collaboration with AAU on issues of domestic revenue mobilization and macro-fiscal coordination,” he added.

Belete Molla (PhD), Minster for Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MinT) forwarded his gratitude to AAU pertaining to focus on socio-economic development, innovation and entrepreneurship which is the mission undertaken by MinT.

Dr. Belete said that there is a tendency of neglecting the role of entrepreneurs as innovators in developing countries which lays a negative impact in slowing down growth and development. “Entrepreneurs are often innovators who bring new goods and technologies to markets; open up new markets, processes, ideas and commercialize new knowledge. The economic growth of a country is not only depends on natural resources but also on the effective use of those resources i.e. entrepreneurship,” he marked.

Therefore, said the Minister, for developing countries, innovation does not only mean the development of new products or new processes or the use of new technologies, but also refers to the capacity to creatively absorb matured technologies, he further expressed.

According to Dr. Belete, the revised Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy framework shifts its focus to a dynamic process of technological learning and innovation which builds the existing progresses and advances on improving entrepreneurial and technological capacities coupled with production linkages.

He further stated that the abundance of societal problems and challenges are usually opportunities for the entrepreneurs and innovators to device technological solutions, and create job and wealth out of the challenges. “In this regard, at higher education transformation initiatives, MinT always avails itself to AAU in its full-fledged autonomous endeavors and in all aspects required.”

Mr. Liming Ye, Public relations Director, Huawei Technologies PLC, Ethiopia, while opening fairs and exhibition stated that the values of the integration between the universities, enterprises and industries in promoting solutions to upgrade the talents of students and trainees as a whole.

As Mr. Liming expressed, Huawei is working to support the education system in Ethiopia by creating different platforms like Huawei ICT Economy which is one of a non-profit coordination program between Huawei and higher education institutions. It plans to provide comprehensive solutions that cover the entire talent development processes starting from courses development, trainer enablement, environment setup, talent certification and employment.

We also provide multidimensional solutions for different types of talents to effectively match the needs of education institutions and enterprises as well as to promote the development of the various types of ICT talents. To meet the students’ employable demand, we work together with college and university teachers to jointly develop courses based on obvious understanding of the industries,” Mr. Liming added.

Reporter: Tsion Aysheshim

Photo: Fikremariam Beyene

Editor: Abraham Girmay