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Zim committed to building a digital economy: ICT Minister

We only have to look at the way we communicate, shop, travel, work and entertain ourselves to understand how technology has drastically changed every aspect of life and business in the last decade.

By Tongai Mwenje

Technology-driven changes are radically transforming the world and enabling developing countries to leapfrog decades of “traditional” industrial development.

But disruptive technology also increases the stakes for countries, which cannot afford to be left behind.

Sub Saharan Africa demonstrated its capacity to harness technology when it embraced the mobile telecom revolution in the 2000s.

Now again, there is huge potential for digital impact in Africa in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

But to achieve that, the five foundations of a digital economy need to be in place – digital infrastructure, literacy and skills, financial services, platforms, and digital entrepreneurship and innovation.

Delivering his policy statement at the just ended World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum, the Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services Dr Jenfan Muswere said that the Zimbabwean ICT Policy framework has
resulted in a robust ICT infrastructure network being installed throughout the country, comprising both fibre and wireless technologies.

This has given birth to over 8.7million internet subscriptions being recorded in the course of 2019.

“Due to the forward looking policies of the Zimbabwean Government, Zimbabwe has fared pretty well in terms of trade, both with external partners and among businesses and consumers, within the Country.”

“The Zimbabwean ICT Policy resulted in a robust ICT Infrastructure network being installed throughout the Country, comprising both fibre and wireless technologies saw over 8.7 million internet subscriptions being recorded in the course of 2019. This has seen the economy and trade, becoming digital. More than new 200 base stations have been constructed.”

“When borders closed during the pandemic, online transactions between businesses in Zimbabwe and other Countries, become the norm, with delivery of goods between Zimbabwe and South Africa using a relay technic for drivers, so that crossing borders was minimised.”

In Zimbabwe currently 89% of the transactions are through mobile financial services platforms.

“The immediate Statutory Instrument 80 of 2020 Banking (Money Transmission, Mobile Banking and Mobile Money Interoperability) Regulations will this year, facilitate increased traffic on across banking and telecommunication network.”

“Whilst developing other e-learning platforms robust communication network, enabled the current online learning systems which some schools and some tertiary institutions are using in Zimbabwe so that students learn from home. Business meetings and social meetings, as well as church meetings, are now being held remotely, while most of Zimbabwe’s work force is working from home, assisted by the increased connectivity, and e-meeting platforms.”

“With regards to safety of transactions, use of electronic systems and building confidence in the use of ICTs, a Cybersecurity and Data Protection Bill, which is set to become law shortly, is being debated in Parliament. In a nutshell, Zimbabwe has all the ingredients for successfully managing trade in the digital economy, both at home and abroad.”

Muswere added that the COVID-19 pandemic was a wake up call not only for Zimbabwe but for all developing countries to quickly adopt to digital economy.

“COVID-19 has shown how glaringly most countries were not ready for digital trade, as there were serious outcries across the globe.”

The 2020 edition of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum is a UN multistakeholder platform facilitating the implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

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