Zimbabwe is renowned for churning out some of the best brains in the world. It is without doubt that Zimbabweans occupy top managerial positions in some blue chip companies around the world owing to their brilliance.
It is however mind boggling to note that the Zimbabwean government is largely to blame for the massive intellectual hemorrhage the country has witnessed over the years due to its projectionist laws and a monopoly kind of mindset which inhibits growth of upcoming ventures in particular in the technology sector.
A number of Zimbabwean technopreneurs have been forced into exile where they are doing wonders and creating millions of life changing jobs. The list below consist of some of the most innovative and brilliant brains that Zimbabwe has forcibly pushed out of the country owing to an an unhealthy operating environment.
According to the ZimAsset targets, government intends to create two million jobs before next despite the continued closure of companies and massive job losses citizens are experiencing on a daily basis. Had technology entrepreneurs been given a chance to prove themselves locally, Zimbabwe wouldn’t be talking about unemployment in this age in time.
In Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Kenya and South Africa dominate the sciences field and more needs to be done to encourage innovation and research in the field of technology.
Below is a list of some of Zimbabwe’s entrepreneurs whose dreams and hopes of investing and turning around the Zimbabweans economy through innovation have been frustrated.
James Makamba is an entrepreneur with a diverse portfolio of interests covering telecommunications, broadcasting, retail, mining and consultancy. Following an altercation with government in the 1990s, Makamba fled into exile and settled in South Africa.
Currently Makamba is the Chairman of the Board of Telecel Zimbabwe, serves as a trustee of the Bongi Ngema Zuma Foundation, sits on the boards of Ibbamo Foundation, JHL Investments, Thurlow and Company, the Kestrel Corporation (Pty) Ltd, African Business Connect, and The Makamba Group. In recent years he has also sat on various other boards, including that of Anglo African Minerals. Makamba founded the Ibbamo Foundation, registering it in South Africa and the United Kingdom. The organisation raises funds and establishes projects for improving educational opportunities for disadvantaged African children. Through the Ibbamo Foundation, Makamba has raised funds for the Jacob Zuma Education Trust.
Considering the talent Makamba commands, his contribution to the Zimbabwean economy could have been significant had he been given a chance to prove himself.
After heated debates and legal fights with government, Strive Masiyiwa, Econet Wireless’s founder was awarded the green light to operate his mobile phone entity in 1998. Over the years, Econet Wireless has become Zimbabwe’s leading mobile phone operator by subscriber base, overshadowing competitors like Telecel and NetOne. Due to the acrimonious relationship that exists between the Zim government and Econet, Masiiwa also retreated into London where he is exiled.
Strive Masiyiwa serves on the boards of some global organisations, including The Rockerfeller Foundation, US Council on Foreign Relations International Advisory Board, the Asia Society, the Africa Progress Panel(APP), Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), The Micronutrient Initiative of Canada, Grow Africa, The African Union’s (AU) EBOLA Fund, Morehouse College Board, and The Pan African Strategic Institute. Masiyiwa also sits on two United Nations Advisory Panels and is the only African member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Conscience.
His company Econet Wireless (Econet) is a privately held global telecommunications company with business operations and investments in more than 20 countries in Africa, Latin America, The United Kingdom, Europe, China, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and New Zealand.
Despite all the potential his enetity holds, the Zimbabwe government continues to throw spanners in Masiiwa’s engine. Recently, government denied Massiwa’s Kwese TV an operating license. Had Kwese TV been granted the operating license in Zimbabwe, DSTV and other free to air operators would pack their bags and leave Zimbabwe and government wouldn’t be talking of millions of dollars being spent on DSTV subscriptions. This could also lead to huge employment creation which lift the employment burden from government hands.
Maxwel Chikumbutso is a local technology enthusiast/inventor and founder of Saith Holdings. The entity is faliing to get licensing and patenting locally owing to bureaucratic chains and government’s fear of the unknown. The young man was in the news in 2015 for developing a vehicle which runs on radio frequencieS, the first electric vehicle in the world that drives without the of a recharge.
He also developed a drone Helicopter that uses all the five fuels including Paraffin as fuel, a drone and a household transformer that can multiply power a hundred-fold. However, due to rigorous registration procedures, Chikumbotso’s ventures’ hope for operating in Zimbabwe still hang in the balance.
However, Chikumbotso’s innovations have attracted investors from around the world in particular South African based Angolan businessman Lewis Kupenala who has injected a sizable amount into his business. His inventions have also attracted international attention as Brazil and other countries are already approaching him with the view of investing in his ventures.
Mutumwa Mawere is Zimbabwean born businessman with interests in mining, manufacturing and agro industries, financial services (banking and insurance), telecommunications, publishing, investment holdings, transport and logistics, and international trading, among others. He has created businesses and turned around enterprises that have become Pan African and global players, most notably Africa Resources Limited (ARL) which was one of the most powerful and influential corporations in Zimbabwe’s history.
After acquiring Zimbabwe’s sole asbestos manufacturing company Shabanie Mine Mines (SMM) in 1996, Mawere’s empire crumbled following a fallout with government after he was accused of prejudicing the state of more than Z$300 million. By Presidential decree, parts of his business came under government control a situation which has led to the dilapidation of an empire which used to employ thousands of Zimbabwes from around the country’s 10 provinces.
Mawere is currently exiled in South Africa where he frantically making efforts to return to Zimbabwe but to no avail.
Daniel Chingoma is a Zimbabwean born self made scientist, cum musician who has developed a number of inventions with the aim of providing solutions to some of Zimbabwea’s problems. Chingoma invented the Taisek water Pump which can be used for irrigation purposes.
Of all his inventions however, it is the Helicopter which attracted the most attention. Chingoma is probably Zimbabwe’s most bitter man considering the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe’s (CAAZ) move to deny him permission to fly any of his homemade Helicopters in Zimbabwe.