Science, technology and innovation (STI) are critical in the sustainable development of any country. In Zambia, STI has not been able to contribute significantly to national development due to a number of challenges namely inadequate human resource, dilapidated infrastructure, obsolete equipment, failure to fully actualise the provisions of the 1996 Science and Technology Policy such as allocation of 3% of the GDP to fund research and development (R&D) activities. Generally, there has been inadequate funding for R&D. These have resulted in the country lagging behind in STI development.
Most R&D activities have been conducted on a small scale, fragmented and uncoordinated in various centres/institutions and by individual researchers. Hence, little impact has come out of these research activities, leading to few intellectual properties (IP)being realized. The Government acknowledges that allowing this status quo to continue would be detrimental to national economic growth.
To address these challenges, in 2007, the Government established the Strategic Research Fund (SRF) to support basic and applied research in areas of national priority. This Fund is administered by the Fund Management Committee at the Ministry of Higher Education and implemented by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). The Fund targets R&D institutions/centres and individuals who must be affiliates of these institutions/centres.
The SRF is a funding mechanism for supporting research in strategic areas in line with national development plans in Zambia.
The overall objective of the SRF is to support basic and applied R&D in identified strategic priority areas within the STI system.
The specific objectives are: i. To fund research and development in identified strategic and priority areas ii. To improve research facilities in R&D institutions that facilitate strategic research iii. To enhance technical and scientific human resource capacity in R&D and STI supporting institutions
iv. To fund local and international collaborative research v. To fund postgraduate research of strategic nature vi. To provide counterpart funding to research supported by other funding agencies vii. To support dissemination of priority research results viii. To provide funding for generation and protection of IP from research activit
The thematic areas in the revised SRF guidelines are aligned to the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) or as revised by government:
i. Agriculture Improve sustainable production and productivity Enhance agriculture value chains Promote diversification within the agriculture sector Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) ii. Mining Promote exploitation of gemstones and industrial minerals Promote mining value chains and industrialization
Promote petroleum and gas exploration Promote small-scale mining Indigenous Knowledge Systems
iii. Tourism Promote diversification of tourism products Restock national parks Archeological research Indigenous Knowledge Systems
iv. Energy Enhance generation, transmission and distribution of electricity Promote renewable and alternative energy Indigenous Knowledge Systems
v. Transport system and infrastructure Promote alternative road construction materials
vi. Water Resources Development and Management Enhance rain water harvesting and catchment protection Promote local and trans-boundary aquifer management Water and sanitation Indigenous Knowledge Systems
vii. Information and Communication Technology Software development Bioinformatics Cyber security Electronic waste management
viii. Industry Material science Design and Manufacturing Value addition technologies Reverse engineering
ix. Health Non-communicable diseases Maternal diseases Nutritional diseases Indigenous knowledge medicine and systems
x. Environment Waste management Deforestation and desertification
Climate change mitigation and adaptation Indigenous Knowledge Systems
xi. Space Sciences
Space Weather Studies Earth Observation Planetary Science Environmental Agriculture sciences Natural resources management
xii. Social Sciences Social and economic studies. policy studies in STI Gender Indigenous Knowledge Systems
The SRF is open to public and private R&D institutions and individuals. In order to access the SRF grant, an institution must be registered with NSTC in a particular funding cycle. Individuals wishing to access SRF grant should be affiliated to an NSTC-registered institution.
Collaborative research among local and international institutions is strongly encouraged.
The Strategic Research Fund is available to Zambian researchers who meet the requirements once a year on a competitive basis.
Applicants are expected to submit a competed application form to NSTC within the call period for a particular year.
The Government policy on science and technology is to embed science and technology in the key economic sectors to promote competitiveness in the production of quality goods and services. In 2007, the Government created the Youth Inventors Fund (YIF) aimed at assisting youth to develop their scientific and technological innovations for possible commercialisation. The Fund is focussed on innovations that are relevant to the creation of wealth and employment for the improvement of the quality of life in Zambia. In 2013, the Youth Inventors Fund was transformed into the Science and Technology Innovation Youth Fund (STIYF), to enable young innovators play a significant role in the development of key sectors of the economy.
The STIYF supports the development, prototyping and piloting of youth innovations. Successful innovations that are commercially viable may be transitioned for upscaling by the National Technology Business Centre (NTBC), or any other institution that may be identified.
The Fund is administered under the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) through a Fund Management Committee (FMC) and a Technical Committee (TC). The implementation of the Fund is done through the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC).
The overall objective of the STIYF is to promote the development and application of scientific and technological innovations by the youth for employment and wealth creation.
The specific objectives are:
The fund is available to Zambian Youth below the age of 36 years. The youth are eligible as individuals or as groups.
For the purpose of this Fund, an Innovation is “a new Scientific and/or Technological idea or process that changes a way of doing something and can be commercially successful”.
Eligible innovations shall be those:
Locally developed or adapted, and should as far as possible utilize local raw materials.
Addressing national priority areas highlighted in the National Development Plans , Vision 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and falling in one or more of the approved areas for support each year, which may include value addition to raw materials; renewable & alternative energy; human and animal health ;agriculture; livestock and fisheries; environment; water management; construction and building; engineering; ICT etc.
The STIYF is available annually on a competitive basis and prospective applicants are expected to submit a completed standard Application Form and a copy of their NRC or birth certificate to the NSTC.
Application forms can be obtained from the NSTC website http://www.nstc.org.zm