Selected colleges and universities have started working on the production of motor vehicle registration plates as the Government seeks to reach the country's self-sufficiency, Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira, has said.
Prof Murwira said the production of plates that have been in short supply, would be co-ordinated through a national project being implemented by a consortium of universities and colleges at their innovation hubs.
He said the universities and colleges were tapping on local resources and skills to develop a system that will ease the shortage of vehicle number plates, create a new generation vehicle registration system that will improve driving standards and prevent fraud among other aspired outcomes.
"Cabinet approved the Zimbabwe National Vehicle Number Plate Project and work has started to improve our national capability to produce registration plates locally," he said.
"Zimbabwe has the capability to produce new number plates and develop a modern vehicle registration system that will save us foreign currency, utilise local resources and skills. The project has started and people are working on it."
Last week, the University of Zimbabwe, a technical partner for the Zimbabwe National Vehicle Number Plate Project, advertised a tender inviting prospective companies to bid for the project to manufacture, supply, deliver, install and commission plant equipment and machinery for the production of acrylic number plates.
"We are working as a Government through our innovation hubs to develop a new system. We need specific machinery for various work assignments given to the colleges and universities to produce number plates and develop a new vehicle registration system," said Prof Murwira.
"It's Education 5.0 at work. I can tell you this project is going to work out well and will help ease vehicle number plate shortages, reduce foreign currency demand and enhance our own national capabilities."
Some of the aims of the project were to develop a new system that would reduce production turnaround times, introduce e-services and offer scope for the automation of support services and the elimination of the manual process.
The country has a backlog of number plates, which are imported and require foreign currency.
Zimbabwe spends more than US$800 000 annually in importing vehicle number plates.
To save foreign currency and promote the utilisation of local resources, the Cabinet tasked innovation hubs at universities to come up with a patent system for local production of plates with adequate security features.
This initiative is expected to help create employment for local scientists and save foreign currency.
Zimbabwe's vehicle population hasbeen increasing rapidly.
According to the Central Vehicle Registry, Zimbabwe's vehicle population stands around 1,3 million.
Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) says that about 170 000 vehicles on the country's roads are not registered.
The country still faces the challenge of supplying enough number plates for new vehicles and some vehicles have been moving around without plates for many months.
To ease the problems, Zimbabwe has plans to set up a US$1 million plant to manufacture vehicle number plates.
Under the plan, the country intends to produce new number plates which will meet world design standards that use radio frequency identification tagging to optimise use of road space, reduce non-compliance, enhance toll and parking authentication, combat vehicle crime and fight terrorism.