PM Tsvangirai's speech at the launch, HICC

Remarks by the prime minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe, the right honourable Morgan R. Tsvangirai, at the occasion of the launch of the second science, technology and innovation policy, Harare International Conference Centre,

His Excellency, President R G Mugabe

Hon. Vice Presidents, J T Mujuru and J L Nkomo

Deputy Prime Ministers, Ms T Khupe and Professor A Mutambara

Hon. Government Ministers here present

Hon. Ministers from Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Malaysia

Hon. Deputy Ministers Here Present

His Worship, the Mayor of Harare, Mr M Masunda

Permanent Secretaries here present

Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Senior Government Officials

Captains of Industry and Commerce

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great honour and pleasure to be here to witness this very important occasion for Zimbabwe, the Launch of the Second Science, Technology and Innovation Policy.

Science and technology are the catalyst for economic development and a sound policy will certainly be a reference document for virtually all Government institutions and for business.

Science, Technology and Innovation are at the core of all forms of national development to solve societal problems such as water, health, energy and agriculture. The integration of Science, Technology and Innovation is key to economic growth and transformation and is central to global economic competitiveness and sustainable development.

I have just returned from a successful visit to China at the invitation of thew Chinese government. In my discussions with Premier Wen Jiabao and business executives from various corporations, it became clear that the success of China has been premised on sound policies that are science and technology oriented.

The success of the companies such as Huawei, a leading global ICT solutions provider, and Lenovo, show the emerging trend of Chinese focus on technology and innovation.

Indeed, science and technology progressively became a catalyst for China’s economic growth.

Science, technology and innovation have the capacity to help the African Union’s vision of having at least 20 of her 54 members states attain middle income status by 2030 besides boosting the continent’s presence in published journals.

Zimbabwe must learn from such countries as China and India, which have invested several billions of dollars in science, technology and innovation development.

Today, those countries are the envy of many. These countries have developed to where they are today, not because they had plenty of resources, but simply because they maximised the benefits that they could acquire from the little resources they had through efficiency as a result of investment in technology.

The Second Science, Technology and Innovation Policy comes at a time when Government is in the process of implementing the Medium Term Plan. Government policies being developed by various arms should in essence converse with each other.

Zimbabwe recognises the critical role played by Science, Technology and Innovation in national development.

However, Zimbabwe has not benefited sufficiently from the vast, diverse and rich knowledge on science and technology due to uncoordinated research and innovation efforts.

The Second Science, Technology and Innovation Policy should rightfully emphasise on promoting our innovative capacity so that the huge amounts of natural resources at our country’s disposal translate to improved quality of lives among our people.

I am delighted to note that the policy we are launching today is all encompassing. It seeks to address the pertinent Science, Technology and Innovation issues across all levels and to develop capacity to generate new knowledge.

The policy seeks to enable the nation to be ready to embrace new technologies and is also sensitive to the social dynamics of our country with particular emphasis on gender mainstreaming.

The policy we are launching today must not only become a good document in some Government ministry but must asssume a new meaning by transforming the lives of ordinary people in Kariba, Beitbridge, Mudzi and Chipinge. It should guide our day to day actions.

Ladies and Gentlemen, science, technology and innovation thrive where there is substantial investment in research and development. Research and development contribute to the management of product development and hence Government has made a commitment to avail resources equivalent to one per cent of the National Gross Domestic Product towards Research and Development.

Government will continue to support researchers through such initiatives as the Innovation and Commercialisation Fund.

Zimbabwe is recognised on the continent as a highly literate country. Our education system, besides, having suffered over the past few years, has remained one of the best on the continent. At the core of development is the element of human capital. I am pleased to note that the Second Science, Technology and Innovation Policy seeks to address this important aspect by promoting skills development in science and technology.

A challenge that has continued to affect our economy is the capacity to add value to our natural resources. This has made us net consumers of products developed from the very raw materials that we export to developed countries. I am glad to note that the second Science, Technology and Innovation policy is not silent at addressing this shortcoming.

The successful implementation of this policy is expected to result in a significant improvement in our national capacity to export finished products rather than primary goods that fetch very little on the international market.

The Second Science, Technology and Innovation Policy is being launched at a time when the world has witnessed wide ranging effects of climate change among other environmental degradations.

Countries throughout the world have devoted time and resources to developing an understanding of climate change. Zimbabwe, as a member of the global family, should develop local capacity in this area so as to make a meaningful contribution to the global pool of workers on climate change.

The Zimbabwean education system has produced a large number of high profile scientists who have and continue to make great contributions in various areas of scientific research.

Government, through this policy, will put in place mechanisms for recognising and rewarding the exploits of our sons and daughters who excel in their fields of specialisation. Science, technology and innovation are the future.

It is my hope that every one of us who have a role to play in developing the country into a strong scientific country will play their part.

The implementation plan of the Science, Technology and Innovation policy shall provide effective strategies for tapping into the diaspora.

It is imperative that we institute ways to lure Zimbabwean scientists who are working in foreign lands back to the country to contribute to national development.

The major challenge at our academic institutions and our corporate sector, both private and public, is to make positive steps that bridge the gap between our quest for academic knowledge and the production of goods and services useful for everyday life.

Over the last ten years, this country has suffered a deficit of skilled and qualified personnel into the Diaspora and these people will not be in a hurry to come back home at the rate needed to sustain our development.

Therefore, corporates and academic institutions must rebuild the reservoir of skilled artisans, engineers and other disciplines to fill the void.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we can only realise the fruits of the implimentation of this policy if we all embrace the principles of peace and development.

Peace is increasingly perceived as a precondition for human development. Broad economic development and prosperity are possible only in the presence of positive peace, as opposed to the absence of war.

Acute conflicts compromise economic stability, halt progress, and retard infrastructural improvements and affect the successful implementation of good policies.

Dislocations caused by crime, unemployment, and fatal communicable diseases go unaddressed, crippling the human creative spirit.

Dreams are shattered and insurgencies destroy cultures, the organisation of societies, and the course of technological development.

Achieving peace should therefore be one of the key focuses of the Government.

For this reason, as Principals to the Global Political Agreement, we have agreed to fully implement the GPA, complete the constitution making process, and to implement the road map towards a free election to ensure lasting peace, which is the foundation for science, technology and innovation development.

I commit to the successful implementation of Zimbabwe’s Second Science, Technology and Innovation Policy which is now before you.


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