‘Unlock potential for industrial hubs’
Nqobile Bhebhe in VICTORIA FALLS
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has reiterated the need to unlock the vast economic potential from the country’s innovation centres saying with adequate private sector support, these could be incubators of vibrant industrial hubs needed to drive massive economic transformation.
While the Government has set the tone for comprehensive national development in line with the targets set out under Vision 2030, the President has implored the private sector players to equally play their part rather than being bystanders.
The role of the private sector is critical in catalysing the successful implementation of major development projects, and especially in commercialisation of the innovative business ideas coming out of innovation and industrial parks at the various institutions of higher learning across the country.
The Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa has already set the pace in the region through adoption of the heritage-based Education 5.0 model, which is opening new doors in terms of impact on production of goods and services and general business growth.
Among the projects that have made a significant impact is the development of semi-automated manufacturing plants for the local production of industrial and household personal care products, personal protective equipment and allied health products at State universities, which has helped save the nation US$12 million in imports.
Some ideas hatched in innovation hubs have so far led to the commissioning of the Marula processing plant at Rutenga in Mwenezi and the production of medical and industrial oxygen at a plant near Feruka in Mutare by Verify Engineering.
More factories are being established at universities and colleges, which were dormant for years and industrialists accused them of not responding to the national challenges under the old education model, which largely focused on academics only.
Addressing delegates yesterday at the second edition of Zimbabwe Economic Development Conference (ZEDCON 2023) held under the theme: “Public and Private Resource Mobilisation for Sustainable Development”, President Mnangagwa said unlocking the potential of innovation hubs through increased private sector partnerships holds the key to robust economic turn-around.
“As the private sector you should not be by-standers but assist in the development and commercialisation of the ideas coming out of our innovation and industrial parks at the various institutions of higher learning,” said President Mnangagwa.
“All our universities now have innovation hubs and we have introduced industrial parks in each university where they test their innovations and ideas.
“Finance Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube is giving university funds. It’s good for the private sector to occasionally spend an hour at universities and inquire on their innovations and projects,” he added.
“I also urge the private sector to complement the Government efforts in wealth creation through the development of infrastructure such as roads, renewable energy power stations and the building of health and education facilities among others.”
To buttress the growth momentum, President Mnangagwa said the Government will continue to provide a conducive business operating environment, which encourages public-private sector partnerships while at the same time guaranteeing stability in the macro-economic environment.
He said the private sector investment in research, development and innovation must be prioritised as a key economic driver for sustainable development with the potential to promote production, productivity, inclusive growth and job creation.
“In this regard, the private sector is challenged to adopt sustainable and development focused business models transitioning from the traditional Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives,” said the President.
“It is, thus, important to broaden sustainable empowerment and employment benefits for populations in the surrounding communities. This must also include investing in science, technology and innovation infrastructure and related programmes and projects particularly for the benefit of our young talented youth.”
The Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and investment Promotion hosted the second edition of ZEDCON whose outcome is set to contribute to the formulation of the 2024 National Budget and review of the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
Earlier on his arrival in the morning, President Mnangagwa was received by Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo, Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube and his deputy, Kudakwashe David Mnangagwa and senior Government officials.
Deliberations at the three-day conference ranged from sources of climate financing, de-dollarisation strategies, monetary policy transition, leveraging digital finance for financial inclusion, leveraging financial markets infrastructure and manufacturing sector prospects.
The conference drew participants from the Government, representatives from local and international investors, business leaders, bilateral and multilateral development institutions, academic and research bodies, and bankers, among others.