Author(s): Research Council of Zimbabwe
A total number of 97 papers were presented during the Symposium. Five were in Plenary Session and 92 papers during the Parallel Sessions.
The Plenary Speaker from India proposed technologies for adoption by SMEs in Zimbabwe. These included but were not limited to millet, tomato and peanut and cassava processing. The Plenary Speaker from India further pledged the Indian Governments support in setting up these technologies through the Incubation Centre Programme. In Zimbabwe work is at an advanced stage to commission the Incubation Centre in Waterfalls, Harare in addition to the Harare Institute of Technology Hi-Tech Centre which is already functional.
The Secretary for Mines and Mining Development gave an overview on Small Scale Mining in Zimbabwe and emphasised that small scale mining is a business and should be treated as such hence the need for research. Small Scale miners were said to be mainly dominant in the extraction of gold, chromite, tantalite and semi-precious stones. Major challenges for the sector were poor health and safety standards; and limited technical expertise and knowledge. Interventions proferred by Government towards the sectors viability included educating and monitoring small scale miners on compliance to statutes on safety, health and environmental issues. Possible partnership with the Indian Government in supply of appropriate exploration, mining and beneficiation equipment was recommended.
The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authoritys (ZERA) is applauded for continued support for the symposium in particular and energy research in general. The ZERA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) presented a paper on accelerating access to modern energy through R&D. Particular focus was on research in renewable energy in line with the ZIMASSET target of increasing the countrys energy generation capacity by 300MWi. She also mentioned ZERAs contribution in supporting renewable energy projects in Solar Biogas Tobacco Curing, Solar water heating efficacy, Jatropha Multi- purpose plant, and increased production of biofuel. The CEO emphasised the need to increase R&D in other sectors besides energy.
Ninety-two (92) papers were presented during the Parallel Sessions under the four thematic areas namely; Social Sciences and Humanities, Sustainable Environment and Resource Management, Promoting and Maintaining Good Health, and the National Security theme areas.
Twenty-four (24) papers were presented against a target of thirty (30) under the Social Sciences and Humanities theme area translating to 80% turnup. The theme area was divided into four sessions and covered issues on social media in developing and growing SMEs, financial record keeping and measurement of profitabiliabity in SMEs, empowerment of women entrepreneurs through microfinance services, and importance of research for bringing innovation to the market place.
Fifity-four (54) against a target of sixty-eight (68) papers were presented under the Sustainable Environment and Resource Management Theme Area. The theme area was divided into twelve (12) sessions to effectively manage the high number of papers received. The average percentage of the papers presented was at 79%. However, there was a low turn-out in one of the 12 sessions caused by failure of authors to make it to the symposium.
Research papers addressed issues on waste management and conservation. Papers in this theme area also focused on Agriculture with tobacco being topical among crops that included cotton, coffee, maize, and strawberries. Commercialisation of the production of nicotinic acid from tobacco waste was discussed and the importance of the technology for value addition to an otherwise wasted resource noted. On the use of high analysis slow release fertilisers in tobacco production, the benefits accrue to the farmer in the form of cost saving for fertiliser and labour. For the entrepreneur there exists a window of opportunity to produce the high analysis slow release fertiliser locally as currently the fertiliser is imported from South Africa with added benefits of import substitution. Coffee was cited to have significant potential as an export crop hence the need to widen the genotypes for the crop. Renewable energy and engineering issues for entrepreneurial growth were also presented. The importance of educating the nation on how to design renewable energy systems such as Hybrid Solar Systems instead of buying ready made imports from the flea markets was emphasised. The benefits were that it empowered entrepreneurs with energy security.
Eight (8) of the nine (9) expected papers were presented under Promoting and Maintaining Good Health Theme area. The papers focused mainly on three areas which are Access to Health Services, Occupational Health and Radiology. There were recommendations to introduce incentives for entrepreneurs who embrace Occupational Health and Safety programs within their operations. There was therefore, need for guidelines for the provision of OHS programs for SMEs.
The National Security of Zimbabwe theme area witnessed presentation of six (6) of the eight (8) expected papers. The six papers presented during the 11th ZIRS was an improvement when compared to three papers which were presented during the 10th ZIRS. The papers in the session were on cyber-crime, impact of agricultural productivity on food security, climate change and invasive species among others. The importance of participation by entrepreneurs in agro-processing was a major recommendation given the importance of agricultural productivity on Food Security in Zimbabwe.