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The Harare Institute of Technology’s (HIT) Board Chairperson Engineer Farai Mavhiya-Bhiza scooped the Institute of Corporate Directors Zimbabwe Board Chairperson of the Year Award – Tertiary Institutions for exhibiting unparalleled visionary leadership in the engineering field as well as in her stewardship of the University, leading to its ability to execute its mandate of developing, incubating, transferring as well commercialising technology for Zimbabwe’s rapid industrialisation.

The HIT Board Chairperson was awarded the prize at the 5th Edition of the prestigious Corporate Directors Excellence Awards Ceremony held under the theme “Embracing Change” on 13 December 2023 at Cresta Lodge in Harare. The event was held to recognise the pinnacle of corporate leadership and celebrate the remarkable achievements and visionary contributions of exceptional directors in Zimbabwe.

Under Engineer Farai Mavhiya-Bhiza’s able leadership, HIT continued to strategically align itself to the national development aspirations by robustly pursuing the five missions of University service namely: research, teaching, community service, innovation, and commercialisation (Education 5.0), consequently championing the formation of high-tech enterprises that create employment, thus contributing to the revenue base for the Government through taxes, ultimately, making HIT, a national torch-bearer in the execution of the Education 5.0 doctrine.

As HIT Board Chairperson, Engineer Mavhiya-Bhiza has been instrumental in providing the leadership of the University’s Strategic Plan, Vision 2025, Designing the Future where the Vision and Mission are articulated as the Destiny, Cause and Calling. Under her stewardship, the University has been commended by the regulatory authority for the higher and tertiary education sector, the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (ZIMCHE) for being the only university that has been able to stick to and deliver on its mandate and has 100% of its academic programmes meeting the fitness-for-purpose requirement. Her Board also received commendation from the Office of the President and Cabinet’s Corporate Governance Unit for being a public institution that exceeded targets in performance management. Engineer Mavhiya-Bhiza has consistently ensured that the University takes cognisance of all the policy imperatives articulated by the Government and incorporates these in the operations of the concerned Units and Departments.

Under her leadership, HIT has an operational Board Charter, Integrity and Ethics Committee, and held its 2023 Annual General Meeting and Compliance Meetings with its Stakeholders. All Board Committee Meetings were held as scheduled.

Engineer Farai Mavhiya-Bhiza’s achievements include the introduction of new postgraduate degree programmes to consolidate the University’s signature as the hub of technology development and delivery of quality technology degrees and increase research, development, and innovation outputs. HIT introduced 24 postgraduate Master of Technology Degree programmes across its schools. The curriculum of these degrees remains infused with a unique aspect of providing students with room to prove their proficiency in translating scientific concepts into tangible outputs which are informed by the philosophical precepts of innovation, technopreneurship, and creativity, and hold the potential for Intellectual Property generation and commercialisation.

Under Engineer Mavhiya-Bhiza’s leadership, HIT implemented a robust staff development programme that enables it to underwrite the processes that offer effective learning and teaching as well as delivery of research, development, and innovation outputs. This academic year, HIT had 9 candidates for Doctor of Technology degrees and 16 pursuing Master of Technology degree programmes. These interventions are giving the Institute a strategic and comparative advantage in the delivery of its mandate.

To date, HIT has registered 36 Industrial Designs, 39 Utility Models, one Trademark, and 635 Software Copyrights to reach a total of 693 Intellectual Properties.  Some of the industrial designs and utility models registered include Calcium carbide electrode designs, Acetylene production plant, and BM1enzyme-based thermophilic Fertilizer Plant. Lithium carbonate beneficiation plant, Transport ventilator circuit, CPAP device, Biomedical variable pressure relief valve, and Biomedical non-variable pressure relief valve.

Some of the outstanding research, innovation, and commercialisation projects that emanated from HIT schools under the tutelage of Engineer Mavhiya-Bhiza include the enhanced battery-grade lithium phosphate. The university has been successful in developing a lithium phosphate 3.2V, 60Ah battery cell, when coupled in either parallel for more voltage or series for enhanced current, the cells will produce sufficient power to drive passenger vehicles.

The University, working in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare, developed a unique digital platform for managing labour case-related issues at the national level. The system shows all the labour cases lodged with respective associations in the country. Furthermore, the system allows the complainants to file a case and automatically the ministry will be able to review and recommend the case in real-time.  Currently, it takes between 14 to 28 days to have a case resolved manually. However, the new system has reduced this to only 3 days. The system also performs automatic scheduling of dispute resolutions.

HIT is also developing a home-grown ERP system that is envisaged to greatly improve the operations of MMCZ. The use of local state universities in such national developments will ensure institutional memory and facilitate project continuity. Having local vendors significantly cuts the national import bill and ensures the availability of reliable support services. The MMCZ made savings of up to US$1 million by working with HIT.

The University is currently working with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) to digitise and improve its asset management process. The system also manages service schedules while keeping track of related vendors and contacts as well as printing and saving the asset reports. This Asset-tracking software provides businesses with a centralised platform to keep track of valuable assets, monitor their movement, and streamline asset management.

HIT also developed a fuel tagging and tracking system that will help ZIMRA to curb fuel smuggling. The system allows ZIMRA and ZERA to determine whether the fuel at any service station has been imported correctly with all duties and taxes paid accordingly. The goal is to improve revenue collection by ZIMRA and to eliminate fuel smuggling.

The Musiyamwa Business Solution was developed to assist with easier tracking of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) within the country by nature of business, location, and performance, thus making the formalisation, grading & rating of MSMEs more possible. The solution allows users easier and more accurate decision-making due to the availability of data right from the source and tax remittance and commitments are much more easily translated and executed due to the availability of transactional history. The system has been widely adopted in industry and commerce.

The University, through its LADS incubated company, in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government has been seized with the upskilling of local authorities through digital transformation training as well as increasing the product and service range for Local Authority Digital Solutions. HIT has increased its footprint to 53 councils. Mutare City Council remains an outstanding example of a council that believes in local as they are sitting on an excess capital of nearly US$ 1 million, the only council with a tax clearance certificate and audited statements.

InstiPark Solution, adopted by councils as is and customised for and launched by Mutare City Council as Wasu. The InstiPark Solution gives councils an affordable, portable, and usable solution designed and built for our Zimbabwean circumstances. The solution works in the absence of electricity and an internet connection, automatically synchronizing data once it detects the network. It was developed with attuned UX design concepts to ensure ease of assimilation and user‑friendliness in deployment. Cyber-security is interlaced into the design and data is stored on the cloud hence Council management can carry out analysis from anywhere in the world through a mobile phone or computer. Developed by your university, the solution is a local design and can be adapted and tailor‑made to suit a council’s specific needs. Designed to work via mobile or web-based systems, the system also has a dedicated self‑service App for increased convenience to clients of a council. Currently, Chinhoyi and Bindura Municipalities, Karoi Town Council, Mutare City Council, and Bikita Rural Council have deployed this solution.

The University continues to design and manufacture oil and dry power distribution transformers at our plant in Chitungwiza. The transformers are being sold commercially.

HIT’s Biomedical Engineering Department continues to make veritable contributions to Biotech Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd, a company that was established in February 2020 under our parent Ministry. Under this company, HIT is manufacturing medical devices via a technical partnership with COMBIOMED from Cuba. A manufacturing factory will soon be constructed at HIT to establish a production line for the patient monitoring machines, among other gadgets.

The University was awarded a SADC-Support to Industrialisation and Productive Sectors(SIPS) grant of U$120 000.00 to carry out a research project titled “Application of Indigenous Knowledge for the development and production of remedies to manage HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe and Eswatini. The HIT SADC-SIPS Project aims to develop safe, efficacious, and quality remedies based on traditional medicines and indigenous knowledge Systems (IKS) to manage the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).”

HIT also launched three more spin-off companies. InstiBio is a spin-off from the Department of Biotechnology that brings industrial biotechnology, medical biotechnology, and advanced mushroom technologies to the nation to improve food security through agriculture and horticultural solutions as well as the health sector through medications.

InstiRad is from the Department of Radiography, specialising in bringing up accessible and affordable radiography services to disadvantaged and under-resourced communities in Zimbabwe. Your Excellency, your university is currently working with Norton Town Council and Norton Hospital in availing various ultrasound services therefore working towards uplifting and boosting health service provision.

InstiQuip, a spin-off of our School of Engineering & Technology section, provides machine design expertise, mould design & and technology expertise, and CAD & CIM technologies for the reverse engineering of advanced machine technologies thus increasing the viability of import substitution and the development of equipment suited and maintainable for our Zimbabwean circumstances

HIT is up to date with its external audits with the 2022 audited financial statements having been submitted to the Auditor General and other stakeholders.

The Harare Institute of Technology also scooped some prestigious awards during the year 2023. The Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Eng, Q.C Kanhukamwe was adjudged as the Overall Best-performing Head of Government Institution after excelling beyond expectation during the 2022 Performance Evaluation Results for State Entities.

The University also scooped five awards at the Inaugural Presidential Innovation Fair held from the 19th to the 20th of April 2023. The awards include the Presidential Innovation Award for the Best Innovating University, Best Innovation in ICT for Matsimba Technologies, Best Collaborative Research/ Innovation undertaken by industry and academia: LADS Africa – HIT and Several Local Authorities, Second Best Innovation in Health for Medical Devices Manufacturing, First Runner-up Award for Best Woman Innovator, Dean Eucaria Mushosho (School of Allied Health Sciences) for her innovation on the production of Ultra-sound gel.)

HIT also got a Platinum award for being an Outstanding State University exuding amazing professional academic dexterity. The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dr Eng. Kanhukamwe was also honoured with a Platinum award for his exceptional leadership skills. Dr Engineer Talon Garikayi, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation, and Commercialization, received a Gold award for his contributions to managing and maintaining the university’s research and innovation operations. HIT also won the First Runner-Up Prize for the 2022 Best Tertiary Institution in Zimbabwe at the ZNCC 2023 Mashonaland Region Awards and Dinner held in Harare on Friday 19 May 2023. The University was also awarded the Zimbabwe Institute of Foundries (ZIF) – Value Addition and Beneficiation of Metals Awards, as a recognition of the value addition and beneficiation of metals in the country (7 December 2023). Stallone Consultancy, Public Sector Management Awards (PSMA) also awarded HIT with the Public Sector Innovation Award (8 December 2023).

The University also presented a total of 639 graduates for capping by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and HIT Chancellor Dr E.D Mnangagwa at its 14th Graduation Ceremony held on the 6th of October 2023.

Engineer Mavhiya-Bhiza is also the President of the Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers, Deputy Board Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA), and outgoing Chairperson of Women in Engineering

She has also served as Chairperson of the Engineering Council of Zimbabwe (ECZ) and as a board member of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) and the Higher Education Examinations Council (HEXCO)

She is also an Associate Director at Arup Zimbabwe, Managing Director at Chisipo Consultants, and an affiliate of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO) “Women in Engineering” and “Engineering and Environment” standing committees and Professional Women Executives in Business (PROWEB).

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