Sifelani Tsiko Senior Writer
Government will fund new scientific research projects to the tune of $1,5 million as it seeks to find ways to spur a science and technological-led economy for growth and development by 2020.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Deputy Minister Dr Godfrey Gandawa said this yesterday on the sidelines of a one-day vice-chancellors workshop that the support will be key in enhancing the impact and effectiveness of scientific research in line with country’s economic blueprint Zim-Asset.
“About $1,5 million has been channeled towards research despite the economic difficulties which we are going through,” he said. Research funding is critical and we want our universities to play an active role in coming up with innovations that can assist in solving some of the problems facing the country.”
The vice-chancellors’ workshop sought to promote closer collaboration among all universities, explore ways to enhance the successful implementation of Zim-Asset and, to evaluate progress made so far in the implementation of the Nziramasanga Commission report.
For years, Zimbabwean scientists have bemoaned poor funding for research, something which had crippled projects that sought to support economic development.
The imposition of sanctions by western countries on Zimbabwe also forced a number of research projects either to be stopped or slowed down.
This frustrated a number of scientists who were keen to come up with innovations that addressed some of the country’s most pressing problems.Zimbabwe and most African countries need more financial support for research and innovation to overcome some of the challenges they face.
Despite scoring some successes, scientific research in Africa has suffered from brain drain and low research output as well as lack of scientific and technological infrastructural development.
Science and policy experts further say that various data had also revealed the disappointing reality that Africa’s contributions to the world’s research and development (R&D) remained very low — totalling less than 1 percent of global investment in R&D and a mere 1,5 percent of total scientific publications.
They also say that it has been so consistently low over the past decade raising concerns among the scientific research community.
“The central reason for the discrepancy between the availability of research funds and the small scale of African scientific output is the lack of adequate research infrastructure: laboratories, data processing centres, biobanks and other brick-and-mortar facilities needed for research, especially near universities,” wrote Nicholas Bashour, a science and technology scholar in an article titled: “Scant funding for research facilities is hurting Africa.”