Free land, duty-free equipment for science facilities

THE government will provide land free of charge to investors who intend to build facilities for innovation, research and development, while equipment and materials for such centres would be imported duty-free, as part of targeted incentives meant to promote science-led development, President Mnangagwa has said.

A Research and Innovation Fund will be set up to, among other uses, bankroll research and innovation at these facilities, while Government will assume costs for registering patents and the roll-out and application of research into commercial applications.

Writing in his column for The Sunday Mail, the President, who said local scientists must be at the centre of the transformative programme, exhorted experts in the Diaspora to relocate back home and be part of the revolution designed to leverage on science, technology and innovation for development.

“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.”

He said the Research Fund will be availed to foreign-based local scientists who intend to relocate home.

It will also be used to sponsor research with a bearing on Zimbabwe’s economy by local scientists in the Diaspora.

Visiting experts who come to “cross-fertilise” with local scientists will also be catered for.

“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 be biased towards development of technologies required to modernise smallholder farmers’ operations as well as small-to-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 directed Government ministries to collaborate with industry to identify possible research areas and engage local scientists and innovators to develop solutions.

The transformation strategy should be grounded on sound deployment of Information 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 called on Zimbabwean scientists based in foreign lands to relocate back home.

He said his administration was putting in place an ideal living and operational environment which is accommodative to their work.

The Zimbabwean economy, he added, is “one huge laboratory and innovation hub” that requires 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.”
(Sunday Mail)