Farirai Machivenyika, Harare Bureau
President Mugabe yesterday urged scientists to come up with new technologies and innovations that are essential to the country’s industrialisation and development thrust.
He said this while officially opening the 11th Zimbabwe International Research Symposium at the Harare International Conference Centre.
“Society looks up to you, as the scientific community, to come up with the technological break-throughs and innovations that will drive and underpin our national and regional industrialisation programmes,” President Mugabe said.
“Advances in the relatively new knowledge disciplines such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, geo-informatics and remote sensing, should be applied to create new improved and diversified industrial processes that will add value to our competitiveness, whilst tackling the practical challenges that are faced by our society,” President Mugabe said.
The symposium was held under the theme “Research for unlocking entrepreneurship bridging the gap,” and the President said this was in line with the country’s economic blueprint, Zim-Asset that seeks to promote private sector investment by unlocking the potential of SMEs.
“The contribution of entrepreneurs to employment creation, poverty reduction and socio-economic transformation, is indeed critical. Entrepreneurs increasingly need to acquire new knowledge and skills to innovate,” he said.
“This symposium provides an appropriate platform for the uptake of research findings that will enable entrepreneurs to produce world class goods and services that are competitive, both in the regional and global market place,” President Mugabe said.
He also commended the Scientific, Industrial and Research Development Centre for developing a drought resistant maize seed variety, SIRDA 113, that has begun contributing to the country’s food security intiatives.
President Mugabe thanked the Indian Government for its contribution towards the growth of the country’s SMEs sector.
“With regard to the Zim-Indo projects, the Hi-Technology Centre at the Harare Institute of Technology was set up through a grant provided by the Indian Government. The Housing Centre at the Harare Institute of Technology cements the link between research, innovation and technology, particularly for entrepreneurs and is promotive of demand-driven impact-oriented research and knowledge,” he said.
“The Computer Numerically Controlled Machines at the Centre not only increase production levels, but also reduce costs of production, thereby improving product competitiveness,” President Mugabe said.
He added that the Zimbabwe and Indian Governments were in the process of setting up the India-Africa Incubation Centre in Waterfalls, Harare to offer trainees both technical and business management skills.
“We are most appreciative of the continued support from India. The presence of the big delegation of high ranking persons from India today is evidence indeed of the strong ties that exist between our two Governments,” he said.
He also commended the Research Council of Zimbabwe for its achievements, saying the Government was committed to funding the institution as stated in the Science Technology and Innovation Policy of Zimbabwe.
Speaking at the same occasion, the chairman of India’s National Small Industries Corporation Mr Ravindra Narth said SMEs were critical for the development of any country as shown by their performance in his country.
“In any country, it’s the SMEs which are the backbone of the economy and our deliberations in the past two days have shown the impact SMEs in Zimbabwe have.
“There is a lot that can be done between India SMEs and SMEs in Zimbabwe,” Mr Narth said.
The two-day symposium ended yesterday and had exhibitions from primary and secondary schools, universities and other tertiary institutions.