Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, Professor Amon Murwira, presented The Center of Education, Innovation, Research and Development Bill on 17 November 2020, in the National Assembly, seeking to create a technology hub to harness and coordinate research and innovation in universities and colleges in Zimbabwe.
Professor Amon Murwira, who stressed that the proposed law seeks to provide the establishment and function of the Centre for Education, Innovation, Research and Development to drive Zimbabwe’s modernisation and industrialisation in public and private sectors that could lead to the growth of industry and job creation. The Bill will provide an administrative framework for the promotion of innovation and industrialisation.
The Bill seeks to ensure that through innovation and research, tertiary institutions grab national challenges for the modernisation and industrialisation of Zimbabwe, and improve the country’s economic environment by the production and export of intellectual property. The objective of the Bill is to coordinate and house programme-based synergies among universities, teachers’ colleges, polytechnics, industrial training colleges, vocational training centres and innovation institutions in tackling national challenges for the modernisation and industrialisation of the country.
Other functions include providing engineering and technological solutions to industry and communities, generating income, promoting and encouraging partnerships in engineering, technology and innovation among institutions of higher and tertiary education, industry and community, and to create an enabling environment that supports innovation and technology business enterprises and connects the Zimbabwe economy with the global innovation industry.
Clause Six of the Bill spells out the functions of the centre, which includes support for the development and demonstration of technology-based products, processes and services and creating technology jobs across the economy for graduates from all institutions of higher and tertiary learning in Zimbabwe. While Clause Eight provides for the procedures of appointing the chief scientist, who acts as the Chief Executive Officer of the centre.
The Bill creates the Centre for Education, Innovation Research and Development Council that will be made up of not less than nine, but not more than 15 members. Therefore The President will appoint the members upon recommendations from the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education. However, the board shall consist of the chief scientist and chief director, who will both be ex-officio members, a registered chartered accountant, a legal practitioner, one person with the tech-entrepreneurial background and not more than six eminent scientists.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, referred the Bill to the Parliamentary Legal Committee in terms of procedures to scrutinise whether its provisions were consistent with the Constitution. After the selection of the members, on its return, legislators in both Chambers will be able to debate and improve the proposed law if there is anything that calls for their attention.
Innovations and technology were mostly recognized by most people especially during the lockdown period where the importance of technology was acknowledged since everything that was done by people on their daily lives demanded digital skills, work from home, learning from home, banking and buying online. Hopefully, the Bill will be approved.