Bureaucracy stifles local innovations

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Some global regulatory frameworks slow down innovations in science and technology, and create fertile ground for cyber fraudsters.

Experts say developing countries like Zimbabwe have innovators who are capable of coming up with solutions relevant to some problems faced in health, education, manufacturing, banking and agriculture.

But local innovations are often bogged down by restrictive regulations at global level.

Speaking at the 6th edition of the Online Economic Development Outlook-New Normal symposium, POSB’s ICT executive Loice Ngulube said some innovations have suffered stillbirth while trying to meet international standards.

“Our regulations can be problematic. You come up with an innovation and it is said not to meet international standards and eventually will just lie idle.

“You send your product for verification and in the process, someone is waiting to see a loophole and pounce on you before you finish rectifying the problem with your product.

“This is problematic and we do not have adequate security when it comes to cybercrime, and we need to be cautious as this can happen to anyone, big or small,” she said.

While it is important to meet international best practices and standards, the bureaucratic process is considered prohibitive.

For example, innovations in the health sector need to be signed off by the World Health Organisation (WHO), a process that can result in inordinate delays.

Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) director of technology transfer, licensing and commercialisation centre Dr Talon Garikai said Zimbabwe has innovators who can easily come up with solutions to local problems.

“The risk of buying, for instance, a software from Germany is that it will address Germany problems and not specific Zimbabwean problems,” he said.

The current pandemic, he said, was an opportunity for local innovators to come up with solutions such as ventilators.

However, these need approval from international organisations, although adequate research would have been done at the local level.

“Innovation is the ability to identify a problem and come up with a solution.

“The roles of the likes of WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are not well defined.

“Here we see innovation and policy clashing.”

Recent local innovations that have been used to solve local problems include the tapcard that is presently being used by Zupco.–sundaymail

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