Funding constraints hinder research

Abigail Mawonde Herald Correspondent
Lack of funding is negatively affecting research, with researchers leaving the country en-masse for the Diaspora where they are doing wonders, the Research Council of Zimbabwe has said.

In an interview with The Herald ahead of the 11th Zimbabwe International Research Symposium scheduled for Harare next month, RCZ Research Prioritisation control and coordination manager Mr Jekoniya Chitereka said while Government was committed at policy level to fully fund research work, resource shortage was a major impediment.

“Research requires significant funding and we are happy that the Government has committed at policy level through the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy that at least one percent of the Gross Domestic Product is directed towards research and development,” he said.

“But I think with the current economic challenges that the country is facing, we have not reached that one percent of the GDP. So, where we have a situation where our researchers are raring to go in terms of coming up with research findings, they do not have funding.

“There is low funding towards research and as a result you find that top notch researchers are now going to the Diaspora where they are doing wonders there.”

Mr Chitereka said research enables development.

“Countries that fund research to a threshold of at least one percent of their GDP are undoubtedly ahead in terms of research, especially the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa),” he said.

“We find ourselves as Zimbabweans relying on those countries when it comes to importing goods and services. They are successful simply because they invested a lot in research and development.

“I strongly believe that research is a key success factor for any economy so that it informs the way you do business. It informs on hi-tech forms of production and it also gives you that comparative advantage with other economies if you have researched on your niche areas that can help in the global village.”

The 11th edition of the ZIRS runs from February 16 to 17 at the Harare International Conference Centre under the theme: “Research for Unlocking Entrepreneurship: Bridging the Gap”.

Mr Chitereka said the symposium was targeting small to medium entrepreneurs.

He said the platform would enable researchers and decision makers at all levels to exchange information, research findings and ideas for unlocking wealth.

The symposium is open for policy makers, captains of industry and commerce, entrepreneurs, artisanal miners local and international cooperating partners, media and students from all over the world.

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