COMPANIES in Zimbabwe need to embrace innovation and technology lest they were condemned to death, National University of Science and Technology director of the Technopark, Eli Mtetwa, has said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Speaking during the Alpha Media Holdings Conversations in Bulawayo on Friday, Mtetwa said there was need for companies and universities to collaborate.
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“Our companies in Zimbabwe, whether in Bulawayo or elsewhere in the country needs to embrace innovation and lack of innovation embracing or involvement of innovation is what is going to render the country and companies uncompetitive because we are in a world of competition,” he said.
“The most important tool to use in competition is innovation. A study of small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in India established that SMEs had linkages with universities survived most and SMEs that had no linkage to universities were highly prone to failure and to closure.”
Mtetwa said institutions of higher learning were offering companies affordable lines of innovation.
“I know companies in our country operate in a survival mode because of shortage of capital, short-term credit lines, high interest rates and because we are using the US$ denominated currency, high labour costs, so they cannot afford to invest in innovation but let me assure you that these institution of higher learning, these universities and polytechnics they provide you with easy and affordable lines of innovation,” Mtetwa said.
“Innovation essentially resides in young people. Innovation capacity in young people, in student, is very easy to tap into and with very small sums of seed money ranging from $500 to $5000 you can actually trigger innovation that can work in favour of your businesses by utilising students in universities.”
“Young people have no vested interests in things which resemble the status quo. They don’t fear to dismantle the status quo and that’s what you need to do. You need to dismantle the status quo through the innovation process,” he said.
Many companies in Zimbabwe are operating under subdued capacity due to a plethora of challenges such as lack of innovation, obsolete machinery among others.
As a result, manufacturing sector’s capacity utilisation dropped 2,3% from 47,4% in 2016 to 45,1% in 2017, according to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries 2017 manufacturing sector survey report.
Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his capacity and can be contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org