Zimbabwe as one of the Least Developed Countries (LDC), or to put it lightly, a developing country, and with time it must be seen to be shedding off that status or backward tag, gradually but in a more proactive and assertive manner. The only way that can deliver this country and many others alike, is its generation and use of research, not only research in general but patent research, capable of delivering any country out of biting poverty and lack of innovations.
By Peter Makwanya
Patent research are useful in ushering new evidence and life-long problem solving skills, hence, universities, other institutions of higher learning, together with reputable research bodies and think tanks, would indeed be paramount in this regard. Patent research are inclusive, versatile, trailblazing and innovative products of critical thoughts and application which would change the people’s livelihoods, technological outlook and industrial recovery of a country.
A very bad and retrogressive indicator of lack of sustainable research, in any given country, especially in the Least Developed Countries (LDC), is a serious lack of research funding and support from the concerned governments. Budding, keen and aspiring researchers always have their zeal shattered by unsupportive responsible authorities. This is the duty of the aforementioned institutions of higher learning, especially universities, to participate in national driven patent research and generate new knowledge and knowledge sharing platforms, necessary for shaping the countries’ industrial, technological and agricultural-hubs as innovation centres for transformation.
It is quite a milestone that scholars of any given country be relevant and even outsmart foreign-based consultants who always come to the Least Developed Countries (LDC) to misrepresent and steal their knowledge to hijack their intellectual property and document it as theirs. Research output and innovations becomes the lifeline and a sustainable tool of knowledge economy that would always contribute significantly and sufficiently well, to policy modifications and decision making in any given country. The reason behind mediocre research output from Least Developed Countries (LDC), is not because there are no researchers, but it is a result of poor or non-existent funding in every respect.
Sadly, great minds in LDC’s are left exposed to well-funded foreign research institutions, who can employ and abuse them to research in a particular manner, perspective or world-views. Researchers who remain in their countries of origin, because of lack of resources, will end up surrendering their quality research products to unscrupulous and money-spinning journals, which don’t even contribute to knowledge development of any country.
Discourses like smart farming, clean energy, sustainable development or green technologies and many others alike, have never originated from the LDC but from the well-resourced ones.
In these developing countries, there are great minds, knowledge and ideas but are quite hamstrung by viability and funding poverty, as such, their research initiatives are always viewed as lacking value and substance, credibility and scholarship.
For academic institutions and research bodies in LDC’s to carry out quality research, they need to be well-oiled, capacited and should not be viewed as negative forces by their governments but as important stakeholders and colleagues in development paradigms, first and foremost.
In this regard, in many developing countries, patented research is next to nothing, not because there are no potential candidates with keen interests but unfortunately they may not be favourites of those in power. Even those who are sometimes called on television to speak on climate change issues, lack so much depth and are not as competent, as such they always display policy inconsistences and climate knowledge bankruptcy.
The other major undoing is that captains of industry and the private sector in developing countries, seem not interested in funding research despite enormous profits they reap from mining, agriculture, tourism and other critical sectors.
Developing countries lack serious research networks hence they need to establish them, where great minds meet, interact and share ideas for national development.
The research networks would also operate as think-tank domains, useful to be accorded the position of opinion leaders, not based on their popularities or political affiliations, but basing on what they know and what they have done for their countries. Universities in our midst should have scholars and professors of subsistence, who can point to what contribution they have done, which changed the lives of their fellow citizens. We need professors with proven line of research, not those who earned the tag by riding on the back of others.
Research should influence decision-making processes, rather than pot-boilers, making noise about nothing. We want those who emulate the sea, which has lots of water because it’s too quiet. While the streams and rivers would be busy making noise, the sea would be quiet, calm and collected.
Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his capacity and can be contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org