President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia welcomes Heriot-Watt Principal and Vice-Chancellor



Professor Richard Williams with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema
Professor Richard Williams with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema

Zambia’s president has met with Professor Richard Williams, the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, to discuss strengthening the University’s links with the southern African country.

Hakainde Hichilema, who became the seventh president of Zambia in August 2021, invited Professor Williams to visit Zambia with Professor Gillian Murray, the University’s Deputy Principal for Enterprise and Business.

The meeting marked a milestone for Heriot-Watt as its alumni numbers in Zambia passed 1,000.

It was a great honour to meet with President Hichilema and explore ways to continue building our unique partnership.

Professor Richard Williams, Principal, Heriot-Watt University

President Hichilema said: “We are delighted to host our Heriot-Watt colleagues, who have done so much to develop skills and leadership in our country.”

Professor Williams said: “It was a great honour to meet with President Hichilema and explore ways to continue building our unique partnership.”

The itinerary for Professor Williams and Professor Murray also included meetings with senior officials from Zambia’s Ministry of Education; with the British High Commissioner to Zambia, Nicholas Woolley; with the Principal of the University of Zambia and with Heriot-Watt alumni in Zambia.

Heriot-Watt’s 1,070 former students in Zambia have studied programmes including an online Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Edinburgh Business School, the University’s graduate school of business. Other subjects include accountancy and finance, strategic planning, management, brewing and distilling, construction management and business and enterprise.

One of Heriot-Watt’s MBA scholars is Regina Mtonga, who has set up a social enterprise called Asikana Network – meaning ‘young women’s network.’

"I wanted to use technology to create a community of confident and capable women and to help more women find employment,” Ms Mtonga said. “So my co-founders and I set up the Asikana Network to train Zambian women in technology and increase their capability in the tech space. Working with international companies like Meta (formerly Facebook), we have now trained more than 30,000 women since 2013.”

Ms Mtonga is a graduate of Heriot-Watt’s Scholarship for Women in Zambia. The programme, launched in 2019 in partnership with the Scottish Government, offered 20 fully funded MBA scholarships to women passionate about business and tackling gender inequality.

Other Heriot-Watt alumni in Zambia include Norman Chipakupaku, who is currently Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Defence in Zambia, and Heriot-Watt Honorary Graduate Sam Abrahams, who is founder and Chief Executive of First Aid Africa. This is a humanitarian organisation providing sustainable medical equipment and first aid education across rural parts of Southern and Eastern Africa.

The Watt Club, the University’s alumni association and the oldest association of its kind in the United Kingdom, held a special reception for graduates in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, to celebrate the 1,000 alumni milestone.

Last month, with support from donors, Heriot-Watt University launched the Denis Goldberg Scholarship Programme in Zambia. Named after the social campaigner who was jailed for 22 years for resisting apartheid, the scholarship is designed to help talented graduate employees in southern Africa study an online, part-time Master of Science (MSc) without having to leave their home country. It offers MSc degrees in Renewable Energy, Construction Management and Real Estate Management.


Victoria Masterson