The 2022 Budget in terms of Science and Technology
Economy, Opinion

Before the United Party for National Development (UPND) was ushered into power through the electoral process, they had clearly expressed interest in Science and Technology. There is a dedication on the matter in their latest party manifesto on page 28. The UPND-led government passed its 2022 budget highlighting many critical aspects to the growth of the economy. KPMG stipulates that the government intends to spend K173 billion representing 37.1% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Thereby, creating a shift from the 2021 budget in which the proposed amount was K119.6 billion and represented 32.6% of GDP. Science and technology is one of the economic aspects the government seeks to address. Hence, the budget is reflective of the party manifesto and therefore the many promises to the Zambian people as key stakeholders.

According to the 2022 yellow book, there is a significant effort towards the Ministry of Science and Technology. For instance, on page 575 of the yellow book, K134.0 million has been allocated to science and research and development.

The table below is an extract from the 2022 yellow book on page 575 under the heading, “HEAD 66 MINISTRY OF TECHNOLOGY AND SCIENCE.”

Programme 2151: Science Research and Development

Programme Budget Allocation by Sub-programme

Programme/ Sub-programme 2020 Budget 2021 Budget 2022 Budget     Estimates
Approved Expenditure Approval Expenditure*
2151 Science Research and Development       134,037,009
0003 Infrastructure Development 22,000,000
0004 Science, Technology and Innovation Coordination 83,537,009
0005 Scientific Research and Development 28,500,000
Programme Total   134,037,009

Budget expenditure as at 30th June, 2021

Among important and critical investments that the government is seeking to do, R&D is priority. The Ministry is seeking to enhance it for greater results. For example, the agenda to continue embarking on creating critical mass of scientists through training and development at both Master of Sciences (MSc) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is still on the table. It is a prerequisite to effective R&D which thrives on expert personnel with adequate professional experience. Furthermore, the Ministry shall strengthen, facilitate and coordinate the commercialization of research outputs, transfer and diffusion of technology and innovation through the supportive regulatory frameworks for production of R&D products. Yet still, the Ministry targets to produce 4 R&D products, commercialize 4 as well as develop 4 innovations.

The Ministry understands its central role around science and technology. Hence, the aim is to ensure science, research and development are combined well for the generation of products and services. Of course, R&D will be inevitable in that generation. The promotion of more scientists is therefore a recurrent one. In that sense, another recurrent issue is the development of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in the educational system. To that effect, there is need for a conducive environment for performing R&D. The government consequently intends for the completion of the Plant Science and Drug Development Research Centre in Kitwe.

The development of science and technology has a lot of auxiliary functions, some of which are consequent decisions from other ministries. Take for instance the pledge by the Minister of Finance to increase more access to education and encourage more females to attend school while presenting the budget in Parliament. “Madam Speaker, to increase access to education, improve the quality of education provision while promoting equal opportunities for girls, learners with disabilities and the vulnerable, I propose to spend a total of K18.1 billion in 2022 on the education sector.” The move will definitely impact positively on the science agenda because the funding will also include subjects and projects linked to science and technology. Moreover, science and technology will be more appreciated in an educated society where the population understands why STEM is top priority. That is why the more citizens get educated, the more it is easier for the technological initiative. More funding in education does not necessarily mean more pupils or students in STEM programmes but it definitely creates awareness towards STEM and how much of a priority it is. In that regard, the Ministry of Science and Technology is being supported by the Ministry of Education.

According to the KPMG 2022 budget highlights the 2022 budget will also encompass Information Communication and Technology (ICT) economic growth by facilitating delivery of services through the Internet. ICT is in many ways synonymous with “Science and Technology” because of the term technology attached to it. The new Ministry of Science and Technology will hence benefit in terms of innovation, which is mainly the reason why the 2022 budget among many other important aspects borders on ICT.

The 2022 budget does not neglect Science and Technology. In doing this, it maintains consistency with the UPND manifesto. The extent to which it measures up to the UPND manifesto may require one to read promises towards science and technology made by the document. At first glance, the 2022 budget is not specific towards science and technology. However, commitments towards education mean the agenda is well aligned. In fact, the Ministry of Science and Technology is well impacted by other Ministry’s and vice versa. To get more clarity on how the 2022 budget will directly benefit science and technology, there is need to check out the 2022 yellow book.

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