Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently announced his government has committed one percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to research and development (R&D). Here’s a closer look at the announcement and what it means, as reported by Newsday.

An Increased Commitment

The government committed $1.5 million in spending per year in 2012 through the Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA) free trade agreement. Factoring in Zimbabwe’s GDP of $17.85 billion in 2017, which is projected to grow by 1.8 percent in the year ahead, the updated amount for R&D will be closer to $200 million annually allocated across all sectors.

Mnangagwa said, “My government will support R&D more concertedly in order to realize improved yields and better quality of our agriculture products.”

The R&D Imperative

Wondering why R&D matters so much? Innovation has a lot to do with it. To that end, the government has also established a national innovation fund to be administered by the Ministry of Science and Technology Development. Its aim? To facilitate and support researchers and research entities in four priority areas: nanotechnology, energy, water and indigenous knowledge systems.

Financial analysts suggest that the private sector should strive to match the government in increasing its investment in R&D. According to Newsday, companies which invest more in R&D are more likely to see success in innovation, product development, business development and export competitiveness.

Mnangagwa also highlighted the importance of technology -- as well as the human resources necessary to keep up with it -- as part of ZImbabwe’s modernization agenda.  “Furthermore, there is need for the adoption and adaptation of appropriate technologies in the agro-processing industry, especially in view of the prevalence of many micro and small-scale farmers across the country,” he said.

“Equally important is the need to develop vibrant agro-processing industries which up-takes our primary products. To date, we have received investors interested in helping us further develop and construct more agro-based industries to process vegetables, fruit, meat and dairy products,” added Mnangagwa.

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