Landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) face special trade and development confrontations, arising from their lack of territorial access to the sea and geographical remoteness from international markets.
Zimbabwe belongs to this group where there is relatively sparse infrastructure established to allow citizens of these areas to access the Internet. Moreover, even when there are connections accessible, many people in those regions simply cannot afford either the devices required or paying for data.
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9c on access to Information Communication Technology (ICT) says ‘significantly increase access to ICT and strive to provide universal and affordable access to Internet in the LDCs (least-developed countries) by 2020’.
Resultantly there is need to establish digital infrastructure that powers our wireless world and forms the backbone of our digital economy to enable the world to deliver the ICT applications that enable extensible solutions to the SDGs.
Responding to a question at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum,Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) Director General Dr Gift Machengete implored the world to avail funding for LLDCs.
“Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9c on access to Information Communication Techonlogy (ICT) for all by 2030 will remain a false hope if certain paramount facets are not attended to specifically in developing countries. Landlocked developing countries appeal to the world for capacitation to accelerate the provision of an enabling environment.” said Dr Machengete.
There is need to invest more in ICT and Energy Infrastructure which are key enablers of meaningful growth and unlocking the maximum potential of other sectors as we move towards a digital economy.Increased information and energy flow made possible by new infrastructure will unearth hidden impacts and new markets.
There is also need to accommodate disabled and speakers of minority languages since SDGs speak of access for all.ICT should be accessible and affordable to anyone, regardless of age or ability.Products and services must also be personalized to make it easier to see,hear, and use all devices.
On content development there is need for us to develop our own ICT products that create a sense of pride and ownership at the same time setting us on the right path of attaining SDGs.
Research and development is another capital intense area that needs extensive attention as investment is one of the main drivers of investment in the new knowledge, technology and thinking that escalates innovation in a country such as Zimbabwe. So, if governments want to assess their performance on ICT, they really need to know how well they are doing on research and developoment.
Another area is that of capacity building it is also a key enabler in delivering the capacity for individuals to be stakeholders and participants in defined activities, such as the ICT sector.
As the country moves towards a digital economy, there is need to investment more in ICT as accelerated ICT access and use is a key driver of economic growth and development.Investment in LLDCs will unlock massive potential and help create better and more beneficial SDGs.