Zimbabwe: Innovation to Define Post-COVID-19 Era

The work of scientists across Africa to conduct clinical trial reviews and combat Covid-19 gets little attention.
30 April 2020

The world should start drawing important lessons on how to move forward with the developmental agenda when the Covid-19 pandemic finally comes under control.

It is clear that Covid-19 has disrupted the world developmental agenda in general and individual countries' developmental trajectories in particular.

The ability to innovate and quickly adapt will be major issues framing the world's developmental trajectory post the Covid-19 era.

In fact, for the last five months since the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 was discovered in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, the world has literally come to a virtual standstill.

The situation is expected to continue like that for some time to come until all countries can safely say that they are free of the virus

Five months is a very long time in terms of development, especially considering the volatility of world economies and currencies.

Budgets and targets for developmental projects will have to be revisited and revised, while some countries will realise they have to fork out more for projects they could have executed for less.

It will be like starting afresh for most countries, especially the developing ones.

While developing countries are likely to be the most to feel the pinch, Covid-19 has given the rise to increased calls for equal and balanced world development.

It will be of no benefit, for example, for some countries to declare themselves free of the virus, while others are still fighting to get rid of it.

As long as the disease exists in one country, all the other countries will still remain at risk because even if they institute measures, they cannot completely and effectively curb the movement of people.

Somehow, as has been happening now, a person from the infected country will still have the potential to meet someone from another country, thereby re-igniting a wave of new infections.

What is important now is for countries with capacity to help the less fortunate ones in the fight against the virus to ensure the whole world is safe.

Of course, countries will come out of Covid-19 at different stages, depending on the measures they institute, but it does not augur well for world develpment if others take too long to shake off the disease.

The more the virus lingers on in some countries, the more the world remains unsafe.

In this way, the virus has exposed the folly of unequal development, and the need to close the widening gap between the rich and poor countries.

This developmental gap needs to be closed so that all countries have the capacity to fight pandemics such as Covid-19, almost at the same level.

This is why efforts by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to provide debt relief for some countries to boost their capacity to fight the pandemic is most welcome.

Of course, Zimbabwe could not benefit from this relief because it does not owe the IMF.

But the country remains hamstrung in its fight against Covid-19 because of illegal sanctions imposed by some Western countries over the country's quest to address colonial imbalances.

What is needed is for the Western counties to immediately lift the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe to enable to the country to end Covid-19 on its territory.

In light of the existing situation, countries like Zimbabwe will have to put extra effort to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 and ensure that after the storm is over they can go back on track with their developmental agenda.

And one of the ways of achieving such desired development is to be innovative.

From now on, let the way forward be characterised by innovation and the use of locally available resources to implement the developmental agenda.

Covid-19 should not kill the original vision of industrialisation and modernisation as enunciated by President Mnangagwa, which the country has set its eyes on.

Catching up with technology that has driven development in other countries should be a priority, as a way of stimulating growth that has been put on the back burner by Covid-19.

This calls for massive investment in technologies that facilitate the ease of doing business to ensure maximum productivity within set times.

This technology-driven innovation should be at the centre of production because of its potential to transform local industries.

Such innovation capacity cannot, of course, be achieved overnight, but it is imperative that those involved start adjusting to the realities they will face in this modern world of production.

Technology has already shown its characteristics of disrupting the usual way of doing things, ushering in high-speed technologies that have changed the world view.

Numerous breakthroughs are being simultaneously made in technological advances, which no other epoch has achieved in the industrialisation process.

This means there is a drastic change in the systems of industrial production, which no country can afford to miss.

There should be increased cooperation between local tertiary institutions and industries, so that brilliant ideas can be transformed into products.

Bright and innovative ideas should be harnessed and see the light of day when it comes to industrial production.

When the fight against Covid-19 is finally over, economies that are not innovative enough face the risk of being left out in advancements that spur productivity and economic growth.

The achievement of Vision 2030 which entails the country becoming an upper middle income economy will be driven by how Zimbabwe picks up the pieces from the Covid-19 pandemic.

And this means going the extra mile to ensure that modernisation of the economy is prioritised by all sectors.

With determination and focus, there is nothing that can stop Zimbabwe from achieving its t goals within previously defined timeframes it has marked for achieving its objectives, despite the setbacks wrought by Covid-19.

What is most important for Zimbabwe is that it has the human resource base with the ability to come up with innovative ideas that can be turned into goods and services.

This education system is being reformed through the introduction of the Education 5.0 policy enunciated under the New Dispensation. The new education system is meant to ensure that students at tertiary institutions are taught to be doers rather than mere thinkers.

The Covid-19 pandemic is bound to change the way the world does its business and it is imperative that countries take innovation seriously. It's sink or swim.

The bottom line is we cannot afford to sink.

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