Chris Mahove, EDITOR
The launch of Zimbabwe’s first ever satellite, IMSAT 1, into space last week was by no means an accident but a result of the Second Republic’s deliberate policy on science and innovation under the Education 5.0 doctrine, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
The country made history when it dispatched its first satellite into space in collaboration with Japan and the United States of America’s National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA), which provided the launch technology.
“The dispatch of ZIMSAT-1 was no accident. Earlier, after the inauguration of the Second Republic, we sat down as the new Administration to debate the role of education, innovation, science and technology in the modernisation and industrialisation of our country. At the time, our Economy was in deep throes. Yet still we dared envision. The result was a new doctrine we now call Education 5.0, which made heritage, innovation and industrialisation key pillars of our new, transformed education system,” President Mnangagwa wrote in his weekly column, Non But Ourselves, in a local weekly.
President Mnangagwa said Education 5.0 had a specific section dedicated to Geospatial, Aeronautical and Space Science, which he said gave birth to the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA), which has been at the heart of the development of ZIMSAT-1.
“We spelt out ZINGSA’s mission thus: ‘The Agency shall design and conduct research and development initiatives that promote advances in Geospatial Science and Earth Observation, Space Science, Space Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering, Astronautical Engineering, Satellite Communications Systems, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), Land Positioning Systems, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and launch Satellites,” he said.
He said the opening of ZINGSA in 2018 was received with ‘palpable skepticism’ by many who believed it was beyond the reach of Zimbabwe, which at that time had broken infrastructure and a collapsed economy.
“Yet there we were, dreaming about participating in space economy! The goal was to put education and knowledge building in the service of our Nation, as our Nation sought to overcome its challenges, and to modernise and industrialise on its way to our stated vision, Vision 2030,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said government made a deliberate decision to allocate one percent of National Gross Domestic Product (GDP) towards Research and Development, something that had never been done before as the country had always been a consumer of received technologies.
“I am happy to say the Second Republic has lived true to that allocative commitment, which is how we have been able to support innovation hubs and develop new and appropriate, home-grown technologies, wholly suited to the needs of our industries, and our communities in their quest to industrialise our rural areas,” he said.
He said ZINGSA’s launch of ZIMSAT 1 had made Zimbabwe a space nation, adding that more satellites were in the pipeline.
“Of course, that we named our maiden satellite ZIMSAT-1 means we foresee the launch of more satellites as our Nation fully exploits and harnesses space technology for rapid industrialisation and modernisation. Indeed, ZIMSAT-2 is on its way, and should be a lot easier given the expertise, experience and confidence we have now garnered through this multinational partnership,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said ZIMSAT1 would present the country with an opportunity to fully understand its physical environment, geological attributes and endowments as well as its weather patterns and human settlements among others.
“With that vast, enhanced capability, we should be able to inventory our subsoil assets, our flora and fauna, to anticipate disasters, weather patterns and to map our total human settlement and land use plans. We are also able to make key interventions in national health, including foreseeing pandemics in time for timeous responses. The possibilities are immense and limitless, making this a worthwhile venture and investment,” he said.
He also revealed that the launch of ZIMSAT 2 was close, adding it would give the country additional capabilities, including in the critical field of communications.
“Once up, ZIMSAT-2 will enable total national connectivity, thus making ICT and other communication applications pervasive handmaidens in National Development. This is a key goal of our NDS1, indeed a key enabler to our goal of achieving universal education steeped in science and technology,” he said.
The Second Republic, he said, was committed fund every Zimbabwean with brilliant innovations and make their scientific ideas a reality.