The National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research formerly known as the National Council for Scientific Research (NCSR) is a government institution under the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE). The Institute was established by the Science and Technology Act No. 26 of 1997 through Statutory Instrument (SI) No. 73 of 1998, after the repeal of the National Council for Scientific Research (NCSR) Act, CAP 236 of the Laws of Zambia.
NISIR's predecessor, the NCSR was created in 1967 by an Act of Parliament (Act 236) to replace the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) of Central Africa, which was similarly preceded by other research institutions namely the Agriculture Research Council of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (1959 - 62), Agriculture Research Council of Central Africa (1963- 66), and the Agricultural Research Council of Zambia (1967- 1970. The NCSR was mandated to advice Government on matters of Science and Technology (S&T), and to enhance local capacity in S&T by recommending or undertaking research and development work in national priority areas to promote the application of S&T in national socioeconomic development.
NISIR is governed by a Management Board consisting of seven (7) members drawn from key stakeholders and appointed for a period of three (3) years, by the Minister responsible for Science and Technology, as stipulated in the Science and Technology Act No.26, 1997 Part V, Section 10, and Statutory Instrument No.73 of 1998 Section 5(1).
The main mandate of NISIR as set out in Section 4, Sub-regulation (1) of Statutory Instrument No. 73 of 1998, is to conduct and promote scientific, technological and industrial research in the fields of food science, engineering, nuclear science, textile technology, biotechnology, energy resources, water resources, industrial chemistry, animal production, material science and natural products. This mandate supports the attainment of a number of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) key indicators such as:
- Enhancing research and development and innovation capacity;
- Enhancing food security and nutrition;
- Promoting small-scale agriculture for diversified and export oriented agriculture;
- Improving access to international markets through enhanced competitiveness of Zambian agricultural products;
- Enhancing the health of the Zambian population;
- Mitigating the effects of climate change; and
- Increasing the role of scientific research in national development.
NISIR is funded by the government of Zambia through monthly subventions. However, multilateral and bilateral cooperating partners fund specific projects of mutual interest. The Institute also generates some income through contract research and analytical services.
The Institute has three campuses: the Waterfalls campus (established in 1971) situated along the KK International Airport Road in Chongwe district, Lusaka Province; the Animal Sciences Research Centre (ASRC) campus (established in 1963) situated in Chilanga district, Lusaka Province, and the Plant Sciences Research Centre (PSRC) campus (established in 1965) situated in Kitwe, Copperbelt Province. There is also a Textiles Laboratory located on Mulalika Road in the Heavy Industrial Area, in Lusaka.
The Waterfalls campus houses the Administrative Headquarters (HQ) as well as the Food Sciences Research Centre (FSRC); the Energy Research Centre (ERC); the Marine Sciences Research Centre (MSRC); the Materials and Minerals Research Centre (MMRC); and a Technical Services Support Unit (TSSU). Two centres under the MSRC and MMRC have been proposed to be established in North-western and Luapula Provinces, respectively.
Research at the Institute is carried out within Centres/POrogrammes by various Research Teams. Currently, there are six (6) Research Centres/Programmes and one Technical Support Unit (TSU) (Table 1).