THE recent signing into law of the Centre for Education, Innovation, Research and Development Act by President Emmerson Mnangagwa is yet another giant step towards the country’s industrialisation and modernisation thrust that will see locally manufactured products spurring the country’s economic growth and development.
Zimbabwe has been on an aggressive drive to revive what had almost become a moribund economy through massive infrastructure projects that are being witnessed across the country as well as stabilisation of the economy and the national currency since November 2017.
Part of the economic revival agenda involves industrialisation as well as modernisation of the economy through the adoption of modern technology and innovation through local institutions and harnessing local skills from the country’s tertiary institutions, hence the signing into law of the Centre for Education, Innovation, Research and Development Act.
The centre will co-ordinate programme-based synergies among universities, teachers’ colleges, polytechnics, industrial training colleges, vocational training centres and innovation institutions in tackling national challenges for the modernisation and industrialisation of Zimbabwe.
“The Centre shall have the following functions—
(a) to support the development and demonstration of technology-based products, processes and services;
(b) to create techno jobs across the economy for graduates from all institutions of higher and tertiary learning in Zimbabwe;
(c)to provide engineering and technological solutions to industry and the community and generate income;
(d) to promote and encourage institutions of higher and tertiary education, industry and community partnerships in engineering, technology and innovation; and
(e) to create an enabling environment that supports innovation and technology business enterprises and connect the Zimbabwe economy with the global innovation industry;
(f) to increase productivity through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics innovation across all of Zimbabwe’s productive and social sectors;
(g) to establish Centre satellite institutes distributed in all provinces of Zimbabwe focusing on priority programmes for strategic sectors that have impact on the economy and society, including but not limited to health and environment, security and protection, mobility and transport, production and supply services, information communication technologies, energy and natural resources, geospatial, aeronautical and Space Sciences, food technology, electronics and electro-mechanical systems and climate resilience, water and sanitation technologies, smart agriculture and genomics;
(h) to co-ordinate and house programme-based synergies among universities, teachers colleges, polytechnics, industrial training colleges, vocational training centres and research and innovation institutions in tackling national challenges for the modernisation and industrialisation of Zimbabwe; and
(i) to improve Zimbabwe’s economic status through production and export of intellectual property,” reads the document in part.
Already, Zimbabwe has demonstrated its ability to come up with locally produced goods.
Recently, President Mnangagwa, commissioned the building housing the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZNGSA) at the Zimbabwe Science Park .
The ZNGSA, which is run by Zimbabwean scientists, will be deployed for earth observation satellites, global navigation satellite systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, geospatial and space technologies for world class farming, advanced mineral exploration and disease surveillance, among other issues.
“In the context of fast changing national and global realities, the acceleration of science, technology and innovation remains necessary for promoting sustainable development, building modernised economic systems, and promoting transformations across all sectors,” said President Mnangagwa.
“In addition, science, technology and innovation are important catalysts to realise a high quality of life for our people.
As such, the setting up of the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency and Science Park are important building blocks for addressing these realities and achieving the outcomes set out in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) and, ultimately, Vision 2030.
The Science Park is a purpose-built cluster of office space which provides laboratories, workrooms and meeting areas designed to support research and development in science, information technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning, the internet of things, biotechnology, virtual reality and robotics, among other fields.”
The production of locally manufactured goods is gathering momentum at a frenetic pace.
Last month, President Mnangagwa also commissioned a medical oxygen and industrial gas manufacturing plant in Mutare.
The oxygen plant, which was manufactured by State-owned entity Verify Engineering, which operates under the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT), will boost the country as well as Africa’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Verify Gases Oxygen Plant is made up of three manufacturing units.
Already, one unit is now 100 percent complete and it produces five tonnes of liquid oxygen per day as well as 10 tonnes of gaseous oxygen.
The second unit is now 90 percent complete and expected to produce another five tonnes of liquid oxygen per day as well as 10 tonnes of gaseous oxygen, while the third plant will be 100 percent complete by the end of this month.
Government said the target is for the plant to be fully operational before year end.
“Today’s commissioning is testimony of the numerous successes made by the Second Republic, let those with eyes to see, see,” said President Mnangagwa at the commissioning of the plant.
“Brick-upon-brick stone-by-stone we will build.
This will have far reaching consequences, the plant has the capacity to ensure self-sufficiency for the country’s needs, with potential for export.
Once again, locals rose to the task as the plant was built by Zimbabweans, the commissioning of this plant is yet another show of the local capabilities and skills by other young men and women.”
In 2019, the country launched the Zimbabwe National Industrial Policy (ZNIDP) and the Local Content Strategy which seek to, among other things, turn the manufacturing sector into a technologically advanced, competitive and diversified industry by 2030.
It will be anchored on investment and innovation-led industrialisation with focus on creating products primarily for export so that the country can generate foreign currency.
The policy also focuses on value addition and beneficiation, the upgrading and modernisation of industrial equipment and machinery as well as production of quality products.
In addition, the policy will promote rural industrialisation in line with the devolution agenda, research and innovation, increased co-operation of the private sector and Government as well as promoting gender and youth mainstreaming in industrialisation.
The key pillars of the policy include development of industrial value chains, agro-based industrialisation, beneficiation of minerals, commercialisation of intellectual property, establishment of linkages with SMEs as well as creation of industrial parks and innovation hubs.
Early this year, President Mnangagwa signed the Manpower Planning and Development Act into law.
The coming into law of the Act transforms the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development’s Education 5.0 from a policy into a legal requirement.
Under the new Section 16A, innovation will be compulsory for every institution of higher learning with funds for the initiative being availed by the Ministry Finance and Economic Development through the Innovation and Industrialisation Fund.
“Each university, research institution, teachers’ college or technical or vocational institution may employ the Fund for any of the following purposes-
(a)To support the development of start-up commercial enterprises and/or technological solutions within its purview;
(b)To promote synergies partnerships in engineering, technology and innovation between the particular university, research institution, teachers’ college or technical or vocational institution and industry and the community,” reads part of the law.
As Zimbabwe forges ahead with its economic revival agenda, the world market will soon have products labelled ‘Made in Zimbabwe’.