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Local Innovation Hubs Solving Zimbabwe’s Problems

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Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently spearheaded the establishment of innovation hubs so as to produce startups which provide focused solutions to the country’s needs as well as produce goods and services.

Only yesterday, five University of Zimbabwe UZ Aeronautical Engineering Department students showcased their designs at the UZ Research Innovation and Industrialisation Week, a major event that allows students to demonstrate their talents in technology.

One of the University of Zimbabwe students, Jeremiah Chakaamba said they were motivated to showcase their talent and skills following on the country’s self-reliance and indigenisation drive. “As Zimbabweans, as Africans we too, have the capacity to make drones. It’s not a preserve for people in the West and in Asia. With adequate financial support we as Zimbabweans can build our own drones,” he said.

These drones are playing a key role in solving the country’s problems as the drones are now in use in a number of other industries like agriculture, mining, geographical mapping and disaster relief efforts among other sectors in the country. The UZ prototype drones are battery powered and the team has plans to develop a hybrid drone that can also use fuel and increase its load capacity.

This invention by locals on these prototypes took them less than two years of research and development. The project faced delays because of the Covid-19 lockdowns, lack of funding and import procurement bottlenecks for key components. “We want to build a hybrid drone with improved designs that allow it to take more weight, as well as fly further and more stably at a higher level. By December, we should be having this. We want to use it to deliver medicines and other essential supplies to remote parts of the country at a lower cost,” Chakaamba said.

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