Zimbabwe, just like most developing nations is faced with a massive case of underutilisation of its resources. Current global trends demand that the developing world move away from the traditional way of thought in which the major driver of the economy was concentrated on the primary industries like agriculture and mineral extraction. This is clearly highlighted by the fact that Africa, though endowed with vast natural resources like minerals, it is no secret that it is plagued with mass poverty and under development.
The future of the country lies in developing and capacitating the manufacturing and value addition sector. However, rapid changes in technology have posed numerous opportunities and challenges, which have resulted in enhancement of manufacturing capabilities through new materials, facilities, techniques and procedures which demand that for any economy to stand it has to keep up in the global competitive environment. I was surprised once when I read in one of the local newspapers where one person (he/she is entitled to their own opinion) advocated for the protection of the local firms from global competition. Such form of thinking means that Zimbabwe shall always be trapped in the murky waters of mediocrity and always lagging behind. If ever the country is to gain any ground and remain relevant in the global economy then it must be willing to fight for its place by standing on an equal footing with the developed world and this is only achievable if Zimbabwe embraces and takes advantage of current technology.
The big question then becomes that since the developed world has decades of experience and exposure ahead of the developing world, if the developing world were to go through all the phases of development as gone through by the developed world, is there a chance of the developing world ever catching up? The answer is an unequivocal and emphatic no! What then is the panacea to the predicament that Zimbabwe and indeed the rest of the developing world find themselves in? The answer lies in finding out what the developed world is doing right that the developing world is not doing. Needless to say there are many areas that we may begin to explore but one area of particular importance where I feel the developing world is found wanting by incredulously huge margins is in Research and Development. The developed world has invested and continues to invest in the area of research and development in various ways including through tertiary and technical institutions.
Through research and development the developed world has invested heavily in innovation. The developing world has the distinctive of advantage that the master plan has already been prepared for it hence there is no need for it to go through the same phases that the developed world went through. The developing world should become the perfect protégé. The developing world must be prepared to learn, modify and perfect what is already there to suit the developing world. The first step towards attaining such a system is investment in research and development. The learning takes all forms from reverse engineering to studying of economic models. The learning also considers all levels from individual through corporates to government levels.
There are so many areas through which the issue of research and developed can be tackled but the education sector is of particular interest. Needless to say there is need for a paradigm shift in the education sector. The education rendered must be relevant to the current global trends. The curricula in our schools should lean towards the computerised age we live in today. There is need for more interaction between all stake holders towards establishment of research centres in our academic and technical institutions at all levels. So much has been said and so much can be said but what is needed now is action more than anything else.