ICT innovation drive a game changer

HARARE - Government's decision to set up a multi-million dollar fund to promote technological innovation will result in Zimbabwe becoming a southern Africa information and communication technology (ICT) hub, experts say.

This was after President Emmerson Mnangagwa this month officially launched the $25 million fund aimed at empowering innovators that are making technological advancements in various sectors of the economy.

Zimbabwe Information and Communication Technologies chairperson Jacob Mutisi said the country is advancing by leaps and bounds in adoption and use of ICT in the private and public sectors.

“ICTs have become an integral and accepted part of everyday life for many people and they are increasing in importance in people’s lives. It is expected that this trend will continue, to the extent that ICT literacy will become a functional requirement for people’s work, social, and personal lives,” he said.

Over the past few years, Zimbabweans have been creating different applications, computer games, computer generated graphics for use by movie studios, but have been struggling to make an impact on the international scene due to lack of funding.

ICT minister Supa Mandiwanzira, however, said the innovation drive fund will help students to emulate their counterparts in developed nations to come up with practical solutions to address various challenges in the country.

“The fund is going to make their dreams come true. The young people here have been looking for people who walk the talk. There is nothing special about the kids of Silicon Valley. We can do the same and better,” he said.

Economic analyst Francis Mukora said with the latest development Zimbabwe could reinvent itself as an ICT hub, taking advantage of Africa’s emerging consumer base and rapid growth of the mobile phone market.

In the last eight years Africa’s mobile phone market has expanded to become larger than the European Union and the United States with nearly 800 million subscribers.

At the same time, Internet bandwidth has grown 20-fold as hundreds of thousands of kilometres of new cables have been laid across the continent to serve an increasing number of the continent’s over one billion citizens.

“No other nation in Africa has the same powerful combination of intellectual capital, infrastructure and language capability that Zimbabwe has. I believe that Zimbabwe has the potential to be an international player in ICT as well as a regional leader,” Mukora said.

Officially launching the Zimbabwe National Policy for ICT and the Zimbabwe Innovation drive in Harare recently, President Mnangagwa said the ICT sector must be viewed as an economic enabler towards the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP).

“ICT must be viewed as an economic enabler for the development and establishment of sector appropriate solutions with comprehensive breath, depth, flexibility and applicability.

“To this end, the importance of the policy will go a long way towards making the information technology revolution the basis for ultimately transforming Zimbabwe into an e-society,” he said.

“The ICT sector is also integral in the establishment of an environment that encourages a network of services and applications promoting e-commerce and trade for goods and services, digital content, establishing e-government, education, online services, strengthening network security as well as building and developing an ICT resources base.”

The policy was approved by Cabinet on August 10, 2016 to cover a five-year period ending in 2020. Its objective is to achieve year on year ICT sector growth rate twice as high as the GDP.

— The Financial Gazette

Comments (1)

It's all good to commend the availing of the funds. The government itself does not have functioning websites. How about putting more effort in in vesting in IT infrastructure and developing skills sets for basics like web developers and digitalisation of schools as a starting point? ICT is not just about using mobile phones folks. There's a whole lot more. POLICIES POLICIES POLICIES PLEAAASSSSE.

priest007 - 27 March 2018

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