In Summary
  • This year, Sweden and Tanzania celebrate 40 years of research cooperation. Numerous researchers from Tanzanian universities have graduated and conducted high quality research in collaboration with many Swedish universities and researchers.

The human curiosity to explore our surrounding is at the heart of all development. Without research, which is the more systematic and methodical form of curiosity, our world would be dramatically different. Both Sweden and Tanzania have understood the value research brings to our societies, which led us to embark on a long-term collaboration in research already in 1977.

This year, Sweden and Tanzania celebrate 40 years of research cooperation. Numerous researchers from Tanzanian universities have graduated and conducted high quality research in collaboration with many Swedish universities and researchers.

The cooperation has resulted in important scientific achievements in areas such as malaria, HIV, reproductive and child health, marine sciences, renewable energy, ICT, urban and rural planning, business administration, natural resources management, geology, molecular biology and biotechnology among others, and has contributed to strengthen the research capacity in Tanzania.

The cooperation has also increased the knowledge of tropical diseases among Swedish researchers. It is important that we are aware and acknowledge the role of research to address problems and its contribution to a prosperous society, for all countries.

The research cooperation between Sweden and Tanzania is in many ways a success. It was initiated 40 years ago and was at the time unique and innovative. The approach was to support sustainable research capacity through research training of university staff, research supporting infrastructure as well as structures for research management and funding of grants.

Our Tanzanian partners in this endeavor are University of Dar es Salaam, Ardhi University, Muhimbili University for Health and Allied Sciences and Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology. These institutions are now considered research hubs with the capacity to offer Tanzanian students high quality research training and their researchers have the capacity to carry out research independently and to share their knowledge nationwide and internationally.

Through the cooperation, Sweden also wishes to be a part of, and encourage strengthening of the links between Tanzanian researchers and the rest of society. HIV and malaria research have influenced policy. The marine science research has contributed to the seaweed farming industry and given support to small business firms making their livelihood out of marine resources have lifted many people out of poverty. The research on certain seeds has resulted in safe and cheap processes to purify water. The examples are many and we can only conclude that research improves life conditions and societies around the globe.

There are two very important aspects to mention. One is of course the value of the research itself and the needed support to researchers and institutions. No funding to research means no new knowledge or groundbreaking results. It is therefore crucial that all countries secure funding to support research, and that the efforts need to be continuous with a long-term perspective.

Otherwise, momentum will be lost and the knowledge quickly falls behind. For Sweden, research and innovation has been a priority for decades, which is one of the reasons for the longstanding support to Tanzanian research. The large and many investments in Swedish innovation and research has indeed payed off; we are ranked high on global indexes rating innovation and business, and Swedish universities possess world class expertise in areas ranging from cancer and diabetes research to medical devices and stem cell therapies. Another example of our appreciation of research is of course the Nobel Prize, the Swedish annual award for outstanding research. Some of the laureates of this prestigious prize will be announced this very month.

Besides funding and appreciation of research, we must also make sure that we as a society benefit from the research. Clear and uncomplicated paths and platforms must be developed to increase collaboration and uptake of knowledge between researchers, policy makers, private companies, and other actors in society. Researchers may produce scientific knowledge but there must also be receivers at the other end to implement the knowledge for the benefit of society. Thus, the creation of a vibrant research culture is of concern to us all.

Sweden will continue to work with Tanzania to strengthen Tanzanian research and research institutions. Research, innovation and development go hand in hand. To enhance the importance of research and research based policy making, we are going to use this 40 year anniversary between Sweden and Tanzania as an occasion to highlight the achievements of our cooperation and the importance of research and innovation to society.

We will celebrate researchers and their results and build bridges between research and policy and between research and business firms. We welcome everyone to join us in the acknowledgement and celebrations of the results, discussions about research and the challenges that lie ahead and spreading the word about #Researchfordevelopment

Katarina Rangnitt is Swedish Ambassador to Tanzania