The SASSCAL Acting Executive Director (ED), Dr. Yonah Seleti, visited Zambia on a two day mission to conduct meetings with various stakeholders. The visit took place between the 21st and 22nd September, 2016. The ED’s visit started with a meeting with SASSCAL Zambia staff where he gave an indication of the roles and responsibilities of each member of staff, spelt out the new vision of SASSCAL going forward as well as the work being done towards the development of a strategy for 2017-2020 to be presented at the Ministerial conference on 24th November, 2016. The ED also took time to meet with the management of the National Executing Agency (NEA) with whom he discussed possible future collaboration on capacity development issues and harvesting of research results because of the institution’s strengths in that area.
The NEA team together with SASSCAL staff later visited the site where the SASSCAL Zambia offices will be constructed. In an effort to seek the involvement of users in the development of SASSCAL products and services that will be user-driven, the ED held a meeting with various stakeholders affiliated with SASSCAL to seek their involvement. The stakeholders were pleased with the update and committed themselves to making an input into the SASSCAL strategy and keeping avenues for collaboration open. On his second day, Dr. Seleti met with SASSCAL Zambia Principal Investigators (PIs). In his message, he provided the background on some of the Board resolutions on the new thrust of SASSCAL. He indicated that research has progressed successfully but nothing much has been achieved on the provision of products and services and capacity development beyond training of Masters and PhD students. This, he indicated, is being seriously considered as part of the process of development of SASSCAL as an international organisation. This will be characterised by a shift in strategy of SASSCAL to capacity building and provision of services some of which can be paid for by beneficiaries. He further emphasised the need for regionality and transdiciplinarity in research tasks in Phase II of SASSCAL.
The ED further stressed the need to institutionalise capacity development for sustainability purposes so that more people can benefit. The ED’s visit ended with a series of meetings with officials of the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) and with stakeholders involved in the SASSCAL National Node construction programme preparations. The MoHE senior officials’ meeting was chaired by the Acting Permanent Secretary, Mr. David Ndopu. Dr. Seleti thanked everyone for the warm welcome to the Ministry and said his main task in the meeting was to mobilise commitment by Government to SASSCAL Phase 2.0. The Acting Permanent Secretary appreciated the efforts of the Executive Director and everyone present at the meeting and assured the ED of Government’s commitment to the SASSCAL agenda. He indicated that already the benefits that SASSCAL has generated for Zambia were immense and that the efforts of SASSCAL are consistent with Government plans and programmes. The Government of the Republic of Zambia cannot afford to be left out from such a cooperation. At the end of the visit, Dr. Seleti acknowledged SASSCAL Zambia for facilitating the meetings and anticipates more such fruitful meetings.