2012 in Zimbawe ICTs, Of Noise Makers and News Makers

By Toneo Rutsito
Previously I gave you the year 2012 in fibre and Technology policies news, So much happened last year with potential results to impact and reshape Zimbabwe.
News makers
Traders were quiet ecstatic when government announced the removal of duty on ICT related imports although earlier on in the year, there were misunderstandings with the Zimra on the borders emanating from the classification of the actual ICT products which should or should not be exempted, the impasse was then later rectified with Zimra officially publishing the table of the said commodities
With rise of cyber criminology, the ZRP also joined the Technological world and anchored a meeting in conjuction with the Computer Society Of Zimbabwe where ways to best curb the new wave of criminology and the statutes that can be used were explored. The police superintendent also bemoaned the non-completion of the computer lab for years which would greatly aid investigation, although on ground our police force still need lots of training in relation to the real world of cyber criminology
Zimbabwe online (ZOL) could have arguably stole the limelight of the yester year where it continually made headlines. Initially it was swiftly acquired by Liquid, an Econet subsidiary for a figure which was not divulged and was actively involved in some social responsibility programmes.
Although its presence was heavily felt on the socio economic field, its product the ZOLspots were slowly disappearing from the marketzol_internet_loveit
ZOL also sponsored jumpstart, a community driven initiative where it called ICT enthusiasts, specialists in web applications, web development and mobile software programmers to converged and share ideas on how best to drive forward our ICT industry.
One of the jumpstart coordinators of Mr Limbikani Soul Kabweza, who is also founder of Zimbabwe`s most popular technology blog TechZim was also selected with Simbarashe Mhungu and travelled to the United States as part of the U.S. President’s Young African Leaders Initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
The International Communication Technology Association of Zimbabwe (ICTAZ) in conjunction with the UK-based organisation Computer Aid International identified beneficiaries and provided expertise and back-up service in Zimbabwe
Awards
As the year was shutting down in November we had lots of global and local technological awards with Econet and biNu lifting our Zimbabwean flag higher by featuring amongst the nominees during AfricaCom 2012 Awards, arguably the biggest technological awards in Africa. however only biNu managed to walk away with an award for the best application beating giants like Mxit
The ministry of ICT also held its rather ceremonial awards where it seeks to appreciate and reward the most outstanding players in the industry. The ministry will have to be commended for pulling such an event with very limited resources although it also left lots to be desired.
The ICT minister Nelson Chamisa has always been upbeat and passionate about technology and its development but some short comings are cases of subtle back stabbing and hopefully the bad apples will be plucked out sooner than later unless ofcourse some people are just sleeping on the job.
The Marketers Association of Zimbabwe also held the superbrands 2012 awards and where Econet wireless Zimbabwe scooped 3 awards. These were for the best telecoms company of the year, best Internet Service Provider (ISP) and the overall Super Brand award of the year 2012 Pastel Zimbabwe also scooped the Software/hardware awardGEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA
International Interests
Software giant Microsoft listed Zimbabwe among other 21 African countries for its web stores and earlier on had its representatives with the Microsoft East and Southern Africa in March launching a developers day initiative in Harare attended by more than one hundred software coders.
IBM, an international award winner and hardware-solution centre company also highlighted its interests of officially returning to Zimbabwe years later after it had packed up.
Samsung also hogged the limelight when it launched its newest product, the Samsung Glaxy S3 at their Joina City shop, the event was officiated by the ICT Minister Nelson Chamisa.
Symposiums
The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge held January was the Summit that brought together 14 Education and ICT Ministers from Southern African countries, who are attending along with major ICT companies such as HP, Samsung, Xerox, NEC, Epson, Intel, Sharp and Core (representing Apple).
Alongside the same summit The Minister of education David Coltart then commented on his Facebook page: “It is a great coup for Zimbabwe to host this conference and I hope it will provide all those involved in our education sector with a new vision for where we need to be taking Zimbabwe’s education.”
The ICT ministry added its commitment to technologies regionally by hosting “ICTs for Sustainability”Elephant Hills, Victoria Falls with the ICT Minister, Mr Nelson Chamisa confirming the project was wholly funded by the government
The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce called out more than 100 ICT companies which registered for the ZNCC 2012 ICT seminar. The aim of the ZNCC ICT Business Innovation Symposium was to bring awareness to the role that technology plays in the transformation of business in modern day Zimbabwe
The Standard Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) finally came out of its silence to condemn and pushed for statutes which will see stringent regulations against substandard ICT products.

Mooks Marketing. Held a convention to help enlighten the ICT players on infrastructural developments and how they can be able to grow their investments through synergies thereby enhancing services improvements May 25
The Bulawayo chapter of the Computer Society of Zimbabwe (CSZ) held its first ICT Expo on the 24th and 25th of November. This managed to tackle the going green concept.
School heads, educationists and the Ministry of education sports and culture also convened in Harare to discuss the ICT in education status quo at an event organised by Blessing Ngorima with Premier IT. Another one was pulled up, dubbed ICT Meeting of the minds organised by Africa Exchange where some school students with Mukonitronics exhibited their own school made energy saver bulbs.
Exhibitions and expos
The annual ICT Africa Exhibition was held at HICC, this event has been running for more than 10 years now. During the last event the organisers, COMSA changed their name to ICT Suppliers
This is an event that has been bringing ICT Suppliers, service providers and ICT consumers together.
Exactly eleven days later the Ministry of ICT held its inaugural five day expo making it the longest technology expo ever to be held in Zimbabwe. The event, which started on Monday and ended on Friday the 5th October was officially opened by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and amply dubbed e-Tech Africa expo.
Comztech, a leading software distributor of high value and Microsoft’s first channel developer partner, which distributes consumer and business technology products and solutions throughout the African continent also held another prestigious event at Crowne Plaza Monomotapa Hotel.
Talent hunt
In September, ZOL also came in stronger with lots of social responsibility programmes especially when it partnered with jumpstart a local technology start up incubating talent. The ZOL jumpstart challenge was held at Harare Sports Club with a prize amounting to US$25 000
Forget Me Not Africa in conjunction with Econet Zimbabwe held an event to hunt and expose talent in computer programming and promote the most creative programme that will be used on the Econet platform.
Another opportunity was recently presented to programmers at an event dubbed Hackathon, The event was an opportunity for local software developers to create a programme used for crowd sourcing as a news application tool. This attracted Twenty-five web developers, this was sponsored by Alpha Media Holdings.
Apps4Africa 2012 graced Zimbabwe among other African countries in November where it seeks to promote applications that positively impact lives via technology. These were the words of Marieme Jamme a coordinator of Apps4Africa.”im looking for the next top young CEO from Zimbabwe, give me your project and I will fund it”. Apparently the submissions just closed last weekApps4Africa
ICTs in Education
In April, The Zimbabwean President and University Chancellor His excellency President Robert Mugabe Opened the ICT Center at University of Zimbabwe The university of Zimbabwe also had a digital bar code scanning system hat registered and verifies students laptops and electronic gadgets to curb against cases of theft.
Harare Institute of Technology (H.I.T) also held an open source day, where they recognised the importance and relevance of Free and open operating systems like Linux among the hundreds which are developed from the Unix shell.
The Midlands State University improvised a gate checking system to lead the way amongst the universities from the conventional way of doing things. Liberty Dandira, the Director of Information Services, is the man behind this innovation.
The Education minister David Coltart has said government is reviewing the information and communication technology (ICT) curriculum to align it with international standards, the final document is still work in progress.
Huge targets
The ICT Minister He revealed his long-term goal will be to have e-learning courses in the country’s 8,000 schools by 2015, He also projected that Zimbabwe will become the hub of ICT in Africa by 2015, backed by serious mobile penetration, more will have to be done in the infrastructural, hardware and software to see this goal through.
Other players suggested that the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) should licence aggregators for Value Added Services (VAS) such as short codes, bulk multi-media services, bulk short message services and triple-play, comprising voice, video and data, among others. These have great impact not only to the ICTs but the socio economic at large
Zimbabwe has seen significant ICT penetration with ITU ranking it the fastest ICT developing country in the world
Disapointments
Econet Wireless Zimbabwe hogged the limelight in Januarry when it broke news that it was to launch VoIP. Ofcourse we remained sceptical how Econet would run such a product which is the biggest threat to their viability as a mobile operators and not much of news ever came out after the launch.
Africom has been pushing VoIP well for years yet it has kept this service active yet locked to its own network, choking the significance of real VoIP connectivity as it does not interconnect with all networksbrodacom
Brodacom made big headlines as it hit the market with its VoIP packages which were marketed under the banner of “game changers” literally getting the market ecstatic only to quickly go down, low and under amid revelations that it faced serious viability constraints forcing it to close the huge shops and offices with some of its assets reported to be attached.

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