Shot in the arm for NUL research

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Mimi Machakaire

THE United Nations Development Program (UNDP) through its Small Grants Programme (SGP), has funded US$50 000 (approximatey M600 000) torwads the development of an Energy Research Centre (ERC) at the National University of Lesotho for its biofuel project.

This was announced at a recent open day event held by the ERC at Alliance France Lesotho in Maseru.

The ERC is in the process of recruiting applicants for the newly established Masters of Science (MSc) in Sustainable Energy Programme that is set to start in August this year. The open day was aimed at encouraging aspiring students to enrol for the programme.

Speaking at the event, one of the researchers at the NUL Biology Department and ERC, Mekbib Sissay Bekele, said the research on biofuel production from sewage water microalgae is in its pilot phase.

“It was initially developed to mobilise resources and to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals which say there is a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity,” Dr Bekele said.

He further explained that the project would pave way for the establishment of a sustainable mix of product-service systems to satisfy the final end user and protect the enviroment.

Dr Bekele said there was need for “a good mariage between stakeholders and policy development for sustainable use of resources to overcome environmental burden with the lowest impact to the environment” and positive social results.

“Service is an action or an activity which can be offered by a party to another party, which is basically intangible and can not affect any ownership. This conventional service marketing definition only draws little attention to the element of sustainability.”

He said since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, stakeholders and customers have increasingly considered the environmental and social consequences of the products they bought. In broder senses, he said, the defination has now changed because the product and its safety or impact has been incuded.

For his part, Tsita Molafo, a lecturer in Physics and Sustainable Energy at NUL, said that the MSc in Sustainable Energy programme deadline for applicants was 31 July.

“The National University of Lesotho (NUL) has recently established an ERC with the aim to perform research that informs policies for sustainable development,” Mr Molafo said.

He said the overall goal of the MSc in the Sustainable Energy programme was to provide high-calibre training in the field of Sustainable Energy Systems and Technology.

Mr Molafo said the MSc programe would train students who would eventually become sustainable energy specialists with socio-econmonic skills for development and implemenation of national strategic plans.

The programme is open for holders of degrees in engineering or science subjects.

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