This time I want to share an experience I had last week in Maputo, Mozambique. I had been invited to give the opening speech at the conference organised by Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM). The title of the presentation was Ideas How to Stimulate a Sustainable and Innovative Research Development at UEM.
My trip started with an experience that illustrates how small the world is. On my way home from my last working day before traveling to Maputo I ran in to Fredrik Lundell. As we discussed we realised that Lars Geschwind that works with Fredrik, will get 2 PhD students from Maputo. Then, I mailed Lars and got the information that the new students are part of a new program entitled Comparative Higher Education, Policy and Innovation Studies. In the end I could add this new happening to my talk. It would have been embarrassed if they would have asked me about Lars collaboration and I would not have known about it, especially since we are from the same school!
My talk focused on how research is done at KTH, impact, working environment as well as how to attract students to education and research. Here, I tried to give some examples from KTH where we for example use household waste as a raw material to produce both energy and bricks as well as how you can recycle cars and electronics. Specifically, focusing on important issues related to circular economy and sustainability and which are important to society as well as are attractive for potential students. Besides an audience from the academics from different countries, represents from embassies/financial institutions from Sweden, Belgium, The Netherlands and Italy participated. After my opening lecture, there was especially a large interest for how we could use household waste (landfills) as raw materials also in Mozambique and other neighbouring African countries. Especially, SIDA shown an interest in future research projects in the area of landfill mining.
The technical outcome from my trip seems to be a serious attempt to write a SIDA proposal on the use of landfills to produce energy and building materials. Here, the KTH researcher Weihong Yang will be important but we expect the collaboration with researchers from the Department of Energy and the Department of Industrial Economy and Management. Another potential scientific outreach from KTH could be a project focusing on cleaning of water from metals such as Hg, Cd and Pb. I know that our colleague Gunno Renman at the ABE school is an expert in the field and I have contacted him regarding this topic.
Besides the engineering talks at the conference, I also listened to other talks in a wide range of areas: violence against women, traffic deaths, malnutrition of children, presence of heavy metals in food, lack of clean water, agricultural methods and biodiversity in nature. This definitely helped me to get another perspective on issues of importance for Mozambique.
As I was shown the neighbourhoods at the outskirts of Maputo I experienced the many temporary houses (“kåkstäder”). Then, I thought that it would be great if we could use the solid material that is left after combustion of household waste as an inexpensive building material for low-cost homes. I thought maybe it is even possible to use this solid waste material to 3D print houses in the future. Is it really possible to combine a fashionable high-tech method with a cheap rest product to influence the life of those in need…
/ Pär Jönsson, Deputy Head of School