HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said government will provide free land to investors intending to build innovation, research and development facilities, while equipment and materials for these centers will be imported duty-free, under targeted incentives to promote science-driven development.
A research and innovation fund will be established to, among other things, finance research and innovation in these institutions, while the government will cover the costs of registering patents and introducing and applying research to commercial applications.
Writing in his column for The Sunday Mail, Mnangagwa said local scientists must be at the heart of the transformation agenda and urged diaspora experts to return home and be part of the revolution to embrace the development of the community science, technology and innovation.
“Firstly, we offer facilities for innovation, research and development. Additionally, we encourage through a raft of incentives any Zimbabwean wishing to complement Government in building such facilities and innovation hubs, across disciplines. Land shall be provided free of charge,” he said.
“Whatever technologies, mechanical aids and materials which are required for such facilities, shall be cleared into the country duty-free. My Government is ready to provide research parks across the country, so research and development are conducted in situ.”
President Mnangagwa said the research fund will be made available to local scientists based abroad who intend to return home.
It will also be used to fund research related to Zimbabwe’s economy by local diaspora scholars.
Guest experts will also be invited to ‘cross-fertilise’ with local scientists and their needs will be covered under the initiative.
“Our industries will be primed to accommodate trials and industrial applications as we seek to transform and to modernise our economy.”
The strategy, he said, will aim to develop the technologies needed to modernize the operations of smallholder farmers and small and medium enterprises.
These two subsectors are considering key drivers of economic transformation.
“State procurement policies will develop a pronounced bias towards buying local technologies and solutions, and funding fairs and platforms where local inventions are exhibited, both here at home and abroad.
“Both our Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) and our Agricultural Show should yearly develop categories where local inventions are exhibited and rewarded.
“So, too, should our Mining Entra and other fairs I would want to see started to focus on innovation in industry.”
The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development is currently preparing a major conference on science, technology and innovation.
The conference will attract local scientists, including from the Diaspora.
President Mnangagwa called on government departments to work with industry to identify potential research areas and engage local scientists and innovators to develop solutions.
The transformation strategy must be based on rational use of information and communication technologies, he said.
“Research has shown that 10 percent increase in broadband penetration is associated with a 1,4 percent increase in GDP growth in emerging markets,” said the President.
“This is no small contribution of technology.
“Transitioning to technology-driven production processes entail making Zimbabwe affordably digital.
“This is a key enabler.”
President Mnangagwa has urged Zimbabwean scientists living in foreign countries to return home.
He said his administration will create an ideal living and operating environment conducive to their work.
Zimbabwe’s economy, he added, is “a vast laboratory and hub of innovation” that needs its innovative citizens.
“We have decided on value addition and beneficiation.
“We have decided on local value chains. We have decided on technology-aided transformation of our economy.
“All these make our economy one huge laboratory and innovation hub which cry out for all our creative citizens.
“As your President, I say come back from wherever you had gone.
“I say come forward from whatever corner to which our inhospitable attitudes and policies had consigned you.
“There is now a place in the sun for you in your homeland.”
- Editor/ additional report by The Sunday Mail