Zim IT experts laugh off govt's 1% for R&D proposal

Some tech experts in Zimbabwe have lambasted the government's intention to allocate 1% of the country's GDP towards research and development saying it is 'paltry' and cannot sustain a socio-economic development strategy, given the country's ongoing liquidity crunch.

Zimbabwe's Education Minister, Paul Mavima is on record as saying, "Guided by the African Union's recommendation, we have committed one percent of Gross Domestic Product to research and development in our bid to increase innovation capacity, productivity and economic growth."

Mavima said its ICT investment will include the development of digital skills, as well as vocational and technical training. "The Zimbabwe government will allocate more resources towards digital literacy programmes, to provide smart e-learning, and train educators in new technologies."

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the successful delivery of ICT in African education was key to driving economic development across the continent.

He added that innovation is meant to infuse latest technological developments into education systems of African countries in line with the African Union's 10-year science, technology and Innovation for Africa (STISA,2024).

However, market analysts have warned that while ICT and telecoms is expected to play a major role in an economic revival, the shortage of forex and liquidity continues to hamper investment in infrastructure development and network expansion.

Independent IT expert Danny Mambo said it was over-ambitious of the government to propose an increase in R&D capacity.

He said, "The government is not exactly cash rich at the moment. That aside, tossing internet connectivity, some second-hand computers here-and-there and solar panels as well ... does that really amount to a credible e-learning strategy that actually yields results and catapult the country into the digital economy?"

Mambo added, "Fact is the efforts being made by the ministry are severely constrained by budgetary resources and students who actually learn IT are those with tech resources at home."