Project coordinator Roope Husgafvel, professor Andrade Fernando Egas and lecturer Mikko Martikka
Mozambique is one of Africa's most heavily-forested countries. About 70 percent of its land area is covered by forest. In spite of this - or possibly because of this - wood processing has not traditionally been seen as a very glamorous field.
‘Many think that wood is a mundane material that can be used by anyone. We want to show that this is not the case,’ says Andrade Fernando Egas with a smile. He works as Professor of Wood Technology at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo.
‘Things are nevertheless going in the right direction. By 2005 our country had only one degree programme in the field. Since then there have been four more,’ he adds.
Research data is needed
In October, Egas and a group of master's students arrived at Aalto University as guests of the Clean Technologies research group headed by Aalto University Professor Olli Dahl. The visit is part of educational collaboration which was launched in the spring of 2013. It includes, among other things, the planning of study units for environmental management and technology as well as lecturing in intensive courses, and teacher and student exchanges. Important themes include sustainable forestry and life cycle issues related to production and products.
‘We also get ideas and help from Aalto for collaboration between university and industry. In Mozambique many companies continue to do things like they were done twenty years ago - if we could intensify the relationship between education, research and businesses, everyone would benefit,’ Egas emphasises.
The utilisation of research data is important if the forest industry in Mozambique is to develop and grow in a sustainable way. One of the problems at the moment is the rapid increase in the consumption of charcoal and the one-sided use of tree species.
‘We have well over 100 species of trees, only three of which are actively utilised,’ Egas says.
‘With the help of research we could increase the utilisation of different species both in the processing industry and in the manufacture of furniture, for instance.’
We need more research data and well-trained young people to move the sector forward.
Mozambique has approximately 200 small forest industry enterprises, most of which are sawmills and plantations. It is clear to Professor Egas what the emergence of new products and innovations requires.
‘We need more research data and well-trained young people to move the sector forward.’
Vagalhão and Sol Nascente are collaborative projects between Aalto University and UEM. They are part of the HEI, ICI and NSS programmes administered by CIMO and funded by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, which support collaboration between Finnish universities and those in developing countries. Students of the master's programme in wood technology will stay at Aalto University until December.
Professor Andrade Fernando Egas
Clean technologies group
Professor Olli Dahl
+358 40 5401070
Project Coordinator Roope Husgafvel
+ 358 50 3442967
Lecturer Mikko Martikka
+ 358 50 3841619
Read also: Education export is collaboration