The recent budget allocated on $10 million to the Information, Communication and Technology, and Cyber Security ministry and it let a lot of people wondering about the future of ICT in Zimbabwe. Considering that most of the money is geared more towards consumption of ICTs rather than the development of the technologies, the future of ICT doesn’t look that promising.
Zimbabwe has always been more of a consumer than a producer of ICT. While we do have some companies producing ICT equipment, the general populace tends to be more interested in foreign products which we consume in large quantities. Sound ICT policies are needed for the development of ICT in Zimbabwe.
By Pearson Mbendera
We pride ourselves for having big companies like Econet Wireless in the ICT sector, their superiority is also aided by the lack of foreign players in the telecoms industry, leaving only local players battling it out for national dominance.
Zimbabwe needs sound ICT policies that will govern the . While we may not expect money from the government and the opening of state-owned enterprises to lead the development of ICTs, there is a lot of support especially in the form of policies that the government through the ministry may come up with to foster an environment conducive enough for the development of ICT.
The ICT minister, Supa Mandiwanzira has been involved in the opening of Community Information Centres (CICs), partnerships with locals and from the many conferences that he has attended, spoken at great length over the the need to develop ICT and having the government spearheading such a development policy.
The 100% local music policy that was once implemented by the then Minister of Information Prof. Jonathan Moyo saw the rise of local music in Zimbabwe, with many artists rising to fame during that era. While it seems too drastic, policies like that, that call for the consumption of local ICT are needed in this country.
Granted, a holistic local-intrinsic policy seems to have potential to do more harm than good as seen by the government’s reversal on the indeginization policy that has seen the drying up of foreign direct investment in Zimbabwe, but for the STEM programme to fully bear fruits in Zimbabwe, the country needs ICT policies geared at promoting the development of ICTs rather than simply consuming them.
Development policies geared towards massive ICT development may come in the form of tax incentives for start-ups, financial aids, creative hubs and mentorship, scholarships, incentives for non-ICT companies to help in the creation of ICTs and many other policy measures that the government may adopt.
We have a lot of financial issues to contend with that makes the development of ICT a little bit hard for our economy, but through ICT, we can turn around the economy of this nation.
But while the focus has been placed on developing the economy of the nation, developing ICT and creating a Silicon valley type of technology environment in the country will go a long way in addressing the issues of job creation, revenue generation and the rebuilding of the economy.
There are many uses of ICT and the potential of harnessing the power of developing ICT is limitless. For the most part, some of the technologies may not require a lot of capital to start with, only asking for large capital injections once they have taken root and looking at expansion.