‘Varsities must take lead in innovations’
Farirai Machivenyika, Harare Bureau
President Mnangagwa has challenged institutions of higher and tertiary education to take the lead in innovations aimed at producing goods and services in line with the “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/Ilizwe lakhiwa ngabaninilo” philosophy.
The President said this while officiating at the inaugural Presidential Innovations Fair and Awards ceremony at the Harare International Conference Centre.
The Fair, a brainchild of the President, began on Thursday and saw 35 institutions of higher and tertiary education, Government scientific agencies and industrial training centres participating.
“My Government is in the process of implementing various policies and programmes which have seen our economy transitioning from stabilisation to growth,” said President Mnangagwa.
“In order to maintain this momentum, my Government is investing in innovation and industrialisation.
“Given the shift from concentrating on the teaching of theory to practicals and entrepreneurship, our various institutions of higher and tertiary education should be torch bearers of innovations aimed at producing quality goods and services. Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/Ilizwe lakhiwa ngabaninilo.”
President Mnangagwa added that in order to beat the effects of the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the West over 20 years ago, it was necessary to fast-track the country’s industrialisation and modernisation through science, technology and innovation and changing of mindsets, dubbed “Chimurenga chepfungwa”.
“In this regard, it is encouraging that, through the innovation hubs and industrial parks, our institutions of higher learning are nurturing start-ups, registering a record number of patents as well as developing prototypes.
“The start-ups should not perennially remain in the innovation hubs. They should graduate to become profitable and employment creating organisations that produce quality products, provide value for end-users and the quality of life of our people,” he said.
The Government will continue supporting the start-ups as they unlock the human potential necessary for Zimbabwe to become a global superpower.
Innovation hubs have been set up at higher and tertiary institutions in all the country’s 10 provinces so that they lead in the production of goods. President Mnangagwa said the innovation hubs were the only way to transform people’s lives.
“Benefiting from the Heritage Based 5.0 model, Zimbabwe has achieved tremendous milestones that have completely changed our nation’s innovation landscape.
“Last year, we managed to launch ZimSat-1, our first-ever satellite, into orbit. This milestone was achieved by our own scientists and engineers from the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency using our own resources.
“The launch is a milestone expected to enhance mineral exploration, environmental monitoring, as well as mapping of human settlements and disease outbreaks, among other capabilities,” he said.
Through Verify Engineering, Zimbabwe is now a net exporter of medical oxygen.
Its Mutare plant also produces industrial oxygen, acetylene and liquid nitrogen while a consortium of tertiary institutions have established a national number plate production plant.
Other projects that would be commissioned soon include the MSU Nanoparticle Plant in Zvishavane, the Masawu Processing Plant at Muzarabani, a Baobab Juice Plant in Mutare, the Bingwa Wildlife and Ecotourism Industrial Park in Hwange as well as Minerals Innovation Centres in Gwanda and Filabusi.
President Mnangagwa added that the Presidential Innovations Fair, which will become an annual event, will in future incorporate players from the private sector, Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and others from the region.
Earlier, President Mnangagwa toured stands at the Fair and was interviewed by Tavita Mpala from Great Zimbabwe University Campus Radio Station, which was broadcasting from the Fair.
“I am so happy that after introducing innovation hubs in all our State universities, every product and service coming from those hubs will improve our economy.
“Every country grows if it invests in science and technology; that’s why we are investing in science and technology. ‘Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/Ilizwe lakhiwa ngabaninilo’. Our boys and girls in institutions of higher education must produce the products which our communities want. I have no doubt that Zimbabwe is on track to develop and catch up with the rest of the world.
“We shall leap-frog our development, modernisation and industrialisation as a result of our own young boys and girls who are talented,” said President Mnangagwa.
The President handed awards to various institutions in 17 categories, with Verify Engineering winning the overall prize of the best innovation, for producing medical oxygen which was critical in the fight against Covid-19.