15 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Mutambara Calls for Resource Value Addition

DEPUTY Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara has urged researchers and ordinary Zimbabweans to work towards beneficiation of the country's vast natural resources.

Officially opening the Zimbabwe International Research Symposium in Harare yesterday, DPM Mutambara said the country should add value to its resources despite spirited discouragement from the West.

He said it was important to Africa and Zimbabwe in particular to be innovative and come up with new technologies.

"Europe and the United States of America will not encourage you to beneficiate.

"They want you to sell raw materials, raw copper, raw diamonds and raw platinum," he said.

"The rich north will not incentivise the poor south to beneficiate."

For the country to realise maximum development it had to protect its industry from world competition, he said.

He, however, said protectionism should have a plan and timelines.

"Protectionism is good.

"There is no country that has developed without some kind of protectionism," he said.

"The World Bank will tell you that you should open up your market but it is important to incubate a certain sector of your industry for a certain period before exposing it to world competition."

DPM Mutambara said the history of value-addition in Africa started around the 1950s but had failed to bear fruits because of lack of new technologies.

DPM urged Government to formulate laws that encouraged the development of modern technologies as a way of building the economy.

DPM Mutambara said research was vital for the development of every country.

"Most of our laws in Zimbabwe are more than 30 years old," he said.

"How can you use a law that was crafted 30 years ago to judge Nano Technology when Nano Technology was no there?"

DPM Mutambara said scientists should have a say in the crafting of policies.

He urged Government to embrace modern technologies.

"Government should understand that research is at the core of development.

"We should have a sense of how other countries are using research output to develop their countries," he said.

DPM Mutambara said Zimbabwe's Government was still paper loaded despite the vast use of ICTs worldwide.

"You try to arrest me if I bring an I-pad in Cabinet.

"We are still too much worried about security," he said.

Science and Technology Acting Minister Nelson Chamisa said Government was committed to capacitating Small to Medium Enterprises in their quest to advance research activities.

He said they were organising another symposium on Nano Technology next month.

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