DEVELOPMENT OF NANOTECHNOLOGY IN ZIMBABWE
Introduction The purpose of the fact sheet is to give an overview of the development of nanotechnology in Zimbabwe. This comes against a background in which the country has identified nanotechnology as its priority research area in its second Science ,Technology and Innovation Policy which was launched on 13 June 2012. What is nanotechnology? Nanotechnology is the manipulation of materials at molecular level between 1 and 100 nanometres. One nanometre is one-millionth of a millimetre and a single human hair is around 80,000 nanometres in width. Materials are the essence of nanotechnology because at nanoscale, some materials arrange themselves in different atomic formations not seen in the bulk form of the same materials. Throughout history of mankind, materials have defined the technology of the age. We refer to the Stone Age and the Iron Age because of the types of materials that were used or developed during those eras to make the technology that was used in everyday life. Nanotechnology is expected to have a profound impact on the economy and society perhaps comparable to ICT and biotechnology. It is anticipated that the technology may bring not only the desired and intended effects such as improved products and economic growth but also unexpected and undesirable side effects. Benefits and Risks of Nanotechnology Nanotechnology has potential applications that can contribute towards human development in Zimbabwe. Nanotechnologies promises breakthrough in areas such as electronics, medicine, energy, water and the environment.. However, the technology can bring new forms of toxicity and could deepen the economic divide between Africa and the rest of the world.
MILESTONES IN NANOTECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT 2006: Nano-“kutaurirana “Dialogues Practical Action, an NGO based in Harare conducted stakeholder panel workshops on 15, 16 and 22 July 2006 under the theme “Can Nanotechnologies help achieve the millennium development target of halving the number of people without access to clean water by 2015?”. Researchers from Demos, Practical Action and the University of Lancaster collaborated on the workshop which was designed to engage the Zimbabwean community and scientists in debates about nanotechnologies. From the workshop, it was noted that water supply, culture and technology are sub-systems that relate to each other hence the need to give them attention. 2010: National Nanotechnology Workshop. There was a nanotechnology workshop hosted by the Ministry of Science and Technology Development in Zimbabwe on 20 May 2010. Ministers and officials from Ministry of Science and Technology in Mozambique and South Africa attended the workshop which was aimed at developing an understanding of areas in the production sector where nanotechnology can be applied, exploring the possibilities of collaboration with international partners and determining areas of competence with regard to nanotechnology. 2011: African Materials Research Society Conference The Sixth Africa Materials Research Society International Conference was held from the 11th to the 16th of December 2011 in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The theme of the Conference was “Advancing Africa through Value Addition to Materials”. The Conference focused on multidisciplinary materials research themes which were informed by Africa’s current and future materials research needs and global trends. The Government of Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of Science and Technology Development was the host as well as the major sponsor of the event.
2012: National Nanotechnology Strategy The Ministry of Science and Technology has developed the National Nanotechnology Strategy which is awaiting approval. As a predecessor to the strategy, the Science, Technology and Innovation policy was launched and it incorporates various aspects of nanotechnology development. Nanotechnology Initiatives in Zimbabwe The development of nanotechnology in Zimbabwe is being driven by various players and these include the Ministry of Science and Technology Development, University of Zimbabwe, Research Council of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Academy of Science. Potential Applications of Nanotechnology •Provision of safe water: Use of nano filters, sponges and membranes. •Drug delivery: Targeted delivery of medicine through nano-enabled technology. •Energy: Improving the efficiency of solar panels and cells. •Minerals value addition: Incorporating nanotechnology to enhance the value of precious minerals. Challenges in the Development of Nanotechnology •Infrastructure: Nanotechnology demands state of art laboratories furnished with high resolution electron microscopes. •Risks and uncertainties: There are anticipated risks and uncertainties due to the size of nanoparticles. Some risks have been proven while others have not but there is concern being raised on the effects of the nano-particles on human health and the environment.
Text prepared by Trust Saidi About us The NANO-DEV project is a partnership of three research institutes led by Maastricht University. Besides Maastricht University (the Netherlands), it includes the University of Hyderabad (India) and the African Technology Policy Studies Network (Kenya). For further details about the project, contact details, results and publications visit us on WWW.NANO-DEV.ORG : The project is funded by