Let’s embrace tech and innovation for economic transformation

Review and Mail writer

President Emmerson Mnangagwa says his government is determined to embrace technology and innovation as important pillars of the country’s ambition to become an upper middle-income economy and foster national development.

In global economics, technology evolution has been widely accepted as a key driver of economic growth for countries, regions and cities.

According to President Mnangagwa, there is a close relationship between new and efficient technologies and higher productivity in economies through innovation leading to greater growth, development and global competitiveness.

Writing in his weekly column, “No-one But Ourselves” published in state media on Sunday, President Mnangagwa said harnessing the two was very crucial for his government to achieve its national priorities which were set out in the National Development Strategy one (NDS1) as well as the Vision 2030 agenda.

“In our digital era, innovation has become far more decisive in determining global competitiveness even more decisive than labour and capital. Better research and development and better innovative technologies make labour and capital more productive and efficient,” he said.

“Against this background, Zimbabwe’s ambition to transform its economy to tertiary levels through domesticated value chains requires a deep conversation with and better recognition of our scientists, technologists, researchers, developers and innovators.

“Without them, our ambition to become an upper middle-income economy and society remains a pipe dream. This may have been the missing link in our whole economic ecosystem. My government is now determined to plug this missing link so our economy moves forward.”

President Mnangagwa added, “I am the first to confess that we have not always shown faith and belief in local talent and scientific intellect. Wrongly, we have viewed technology and innovation as something we import from abroad, something we equate to certain races and colours.

“We have not seen technology and innovation as what we can and should develop or see ourselves as creators of that technology and innovation.

“All this amounts to self-contempt, possibly traceable to our century-long experience as colonialism’s underdog race; indeed, as servile “hewers of wood and drawers of water”. Yet we are more than brawn, we are creative and have innovative brains.”

As part of efforts by the Second Republic to promote value addition and beneficiation, President Mnangagwa sent a plea to all Zimbabweans outside the country to come back and invest their skills back home where his government will provide free land to build innovation hubs as well as establish a fund for research and innovation.

“Firstly, we offer facilities for innovation, research and development. Additionally, we encourage through a raft of incentives any Zimbabwean wishing to compliment Government in building such facilities and innovation hubs, across disciplines. Land shall be provided free of charge. Whatever technologies, mechanical aids and materials which are required for such facilities shall be cleared into the country duty-free,” President Mnangagwa said.

“Secondly, we are moving swiftly to create and augment a Research and Innovation Fund which finances such facilities, so Zimbabwean scientists are released to focus exclusively on research and innovation.

“This Fund should also be available to our scientists who might need to relocate home or even to conduct research with a bearing on our economy from wherever they are. It must also fund visiting experts who come to cross-fertilise with our scientists here.”

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