The 2018 National Budget as presented by Finance and Economic Development Minister Hon Patrick Chinamasa was received with mixed feelings. The ICT and Cyber Security ministry received only $10 million, a meagre amount from the $17 million that the ministry received in the last budget, a 41% reduction.
ICTs have changed the way people live their lives, and one of the best performing companies in Zimbabwe, Econet Wireless is in this sector that has seen a great deal many developments and changes.
By Pearson Mbendera
The BVR system in voter registration, the creation of the Cyber Security ministry, the opening of various Community Information Centres (CICs) and many other ICT based proposals to help the government and its various agencies showcases that the government is interested in boosting the ICT in Zimbabwe.
But despite the many signs of interest in the sector, the money allocated to the ministry responsible for ICT is not enough to cater for the many technological needs that the country need to see addressed is the development of ICT in Zimbabwe.
The government doesn’t have the money
The money that the ministry received is not enough and that’s the honest truth. Anyone can advocate for more allocation in all sectors of the country, not just ICT, but the government just doesn’t have the money for that.
There are sectors in Zimbabwe that require a lot of money like the Health sector and Education and they are the sectors that have little earning power, unlike the ICT sector which receives a lot of money from licenses and fees that thy can use to develop the sector.
At the moment, POTRAZ in collaboration with the Ministry of ICT is set to avail funds to the first top 10 projects under the Innovation Drive.
The development of ICTs shouldn’t be the government’s sole responsibility
The development of ICT in Zimbabwe isn’t the sole responsibility of the ICT ministry, everyone has a role to play.
Hon Patrick Chinamasa didn’t give a lot of money to the ICT ministry but allocated a lot of money to some other departments, sectors and agencies for the development of their own ICTs. ZIMRA, TelOne, NetOne, The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), ZDF are some of the institutions that received a substantial amount to develop their ICTs.
Giving the money to the ministry might actually tie it up in a lot of red tape that may actually delay the development of ICT in some other sectors. These departments can develop their own ICTs from policy to the technology they use and at a much quicker pace since they know what it is that they really like.
One of the best performing company in Zimbabwe, Econet Wireless is from the ICT sector and it can do a lot to promote ICT in Zimbabwe without taking any help from the ministry.
We can all have our own opinions on the budget, there is no way it will satisfy everyone. But it is important noting the many limitations that Zimbabwe faces as a nation and wheher we can avail a lot of money and throw support to the ICT ministry in the way that everyone, especially those in the sector would prefer.
But there is also need for accountability. It is one thing talking about getting a lot of money, it is another things making the most of the said funds.There has been a lot of great things that the ministry has done to push for the development of ICTs in Zimbabwe, but there is more that needs to be done. They have to be more accountable to the people and show that there deserve more money and can actually put it to good use.