My article last week dwelt on domesticating value chains so our Nation copes better in current turbulence of broken international systems and disrupted global value chains. In that piece, I emphasised local manufacture which is technology-mediated and driven for greater efficiencies.
In making that proposition, I implied a direct, even causal link between technology and innovation, on the one hand, and economic growth and development, on the other. Indeed, this direct, causal link is now accepted in conventional economic theories on development.
These assert positive correlation between new and more efficient technologies, and higher productivity in economies, leading to greater growth and development. 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 and innovative technologies make labour and capital more productive and efficient.
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.
With a career bestriding both the First and Second Republic, 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 seen 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.
The time has now come to believe in our children and thus in ourselves. To give our children a supportive milieu where they blossom as inventors of technologies, and as innovators. A milieu which encourages, funds and rewards R&D (research and development), across the board.
The Second Republic must make a break with Zimbabwe’s shameful past of self-disdain. It must be about science; it must be about technology, about innovation, research and development. From a mere labouring race, we must now become a race in the laboratory and in innovation hubs. This is what Education 5.0 is about: anchoring our education in STI, or science, technology and innovation.
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