Zimbabwe has become the 19 th country in Africa to produce Oxygen as the second republic has taken a good step in its push for accelerated transformation.The new Oxygen plant harnesses local skills as President Mnangagwa was shown around the medical oxygen and industrial gases plant by Verify Engineering chief executive officer Engineer Pedzie Tapfumaneyi after commissioning the plant at Feruka in Mutare in the presence of Government ministers and officials.
Zimbabweans should collectively and relentlessly harness resources at their disposal to leapfrog the country’s economic transformation, which is anchored on the tenets of National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), itself a centrepiece in the realisation of Vision 2030, to become an upper-middle-class economy, the President has said.
The Government, President Mnangagwa said, will thus continue implementing policies and institute measures that accelerate industrialisation, modernisation and entrepreneurship as the country builds an innovation-led knowledge-based economy spelt in NDS1.
Officially commissioning an oxygen and solar plant in Feruka, Mutare, yesterday , which are products of a local company Verify Engineering, an offshoot of the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT), the President said fruits of his Government’s deliberate policies towards a results-based education system were now being realised.
“The commissioning of this plant is yet another show of the local capabilities and skills by our young men and women who can now be depended on to set up new industries and other ventures from scratch. This is how we must continue to build this great country. “The steps taken to date are commendable and will undoubtedly propel the realisation of our set goals. Let us therefore, not relent in harnessing our vast natural resource endowment, bright minds and hardworking population for a giant leap forward.
Investments in technologies which are re-defining development and global economies, must be increased. “These include advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, semiconductor technologies, power backup storage, quantum information science, and 5G, among others. This is a new era of technologies, innovation and fast-paced industrialisation, and Zimbabwe must not be left behind,” he said.
The success of the Verify Engineering is a culmination of the efforts by the Second Republic to put in place an ecosystem that enhances and entrenches a culture of Innovation. “Today’s commissioning thus, adds to the numerous testimonies of the successes made by the Second Republic in infrastructure development and industrialisation. It is further part of the bold programme of National Economic Reconstruction and Social Transformation, targeted at boosting productivity, competitiveness and efficiency levels,” the President said.
Verify Engineering has an installed capacity to produce daily 20 tonnes of oxygen gas, 16,5 tonnes of liquid oxygen, and 2,5 tonnes of nitrogen. That ensures national selfsufficiency. “As we scale up the mechanisation and modernisation of agriculture, liquid nitrogen will help in the maintenance and calibration of various farming equipment, that way reducing downtimes for farmers. The agriculture sector also uses liquid nitrogen for storage of biological materials used in artificial insemination in the livestock industry, which will contribute to boosting beef and dairy production.
“In view of the exponential growth of the mining sector and the quest to realise a US$12 billion mining sector, readily available oxygen will facilitate various refining processes in gold and chrome, blast furnaces, steelmaking as well as metal fabrication among other aspects. I, therefore, urge Verify Engineering to ensure uninterrupted and cost effective provision of their products through providing comprehensive back-up and support services.
“Following the commissioning of this oxygen and nitrogen plant which will provide critical raw materials for coal gasification, it is my expectation that work also starts to achieve the Coal-to-Fertiliser and Coal-to-Liquid Fuel projects. These major national projects are critical to Zimbabwe’s self-sufficiency in fertiliser and liquid fuel requirements,” said President Mnangagwa.
The other uses of purified oxygen include in surgical procedures, sterilisation, steel production, welding and fabrication, sewage treatment and water purification, and also production of energy in genenators and vehicles. Nitrogen is used in mechanical engineering, food processing and also refrigeration systems.
One of the key objectives of the Second Republic, the President said, was to foster the development of robust processes and methods of producing locally high quality products as a means to accelerate economic growth. Using its vast resources and also reaching out to the Diaspora, Zimbabwe would undoubtedly meet its goals that are spelt in NDS1 and which require the country to look inwardly for its economic development.
“Efforts must also be stepped up to leverage the brilliant brains of Zimbabweans in the diaspora to augment the rich and diverse research and innovation ecosystem that is now evident within the country. Tomorrow is a future which we collectively construct today,” he said. Critically and timely for the nation, the commissioned gas plant comes in handy as the country is facing a third wave of Covid-19, a respiratory disease that requires medical quality oxygen for seriously-ill patients.
“The local production of gases by Verify Engineering we are witnessing at this plant will undoubtedly have far-reaching benefits. I heartily congratulate all stakeholders specifically, Verify Engineering and the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development for the speedy implementation of this landmark project.
“The gas plant provides medical gas products, which enable healthcare professionals to avail optimal therapy for patients. Indeed, medical oxygen therapy is one of the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s 30 essential medicines. “Its provision is even more critical in the context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic which requires steady and consistent medical oxygen supply to ensure that patients who need it, have access to it at affordable costs. Meanwhile, liquid nitrogen is also in high demand for use as a coolant for various medicines and vaccines,” he said.
Apart from being a stitch in time in the health sector, the oxygen plant with an extended output of nitrogen will also significantly improve the mining and agriculture sector, which are both mainstay to the country’s economy and crucial in the realisation of Vision 2030, to be an upper middle class economy. “The gases produced by Verify Engineering will also contribute significantly to other sectors of the economy. In agriculture, my Government made a deliberate decision to increase our national capacities with regards to aquaculture. Hence, oxygen gas from this facility will help boost fish yields thereby improving the viability and sustainability of fish farming as a business.”
President Mnangagwa was accompanied by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Minister of Defence and War Veterans Oppah Muchinguri, who is also the Zanu-PF national chairperson, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Amon Murwira, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Sen Monica Mutsvangwa, Finance and Economic Development Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube, Minister of Energy and Power Development Hon Zhemu Soda, Minister of Information Technology Jenfan Muswere and senior Government officials.