Tawanda Musarurwa and Simiso Mlevu in VICTORIA FALLS
Zimbabwe is targeting an upsurge in foreign direct investment in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector through policy enhancement and the introduction of a Technology Park, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
The VP said this while officially opening the 13th edition of the Innovation Africa Digital (IAD) Summit in Victoria Falls on Wednesday.
VP Mnangagwa said there was need to put in place policies that are conducive to the growth of the ICT sector in Zimbabwe and Africa.
“It is my take that to unlock the potential of ICT innovation, governments have to calibrate their interventions.”
He also implored governments in Africa to concentrate on training personnel in order to facilitate full spectrum development in the ICT sector.
“There is a fine balance between facilitating innovation and stifling it with too much intervention. Rather than direct intervention, governments should focus on the key enablers of ICT innovation: Developing a skilled workforce, implementing ICT innovation policies, promoting ICT entrepreneurship and facilitating a bottom-up approach to innovation,” said VP Mnangagwa.
“As governments we are ensuring that well-rounded policies and regulations, for example, which stimulate both supply of and demand for broadband are a must.”
He said the Government’s vision is to have a knowledge-based society with ubiquitous connectivity by 2020.
The Government has already demonstrated its commitment to support the growth of the local ICT sector through a number of initiatives, including connecting rural schools and the setting up of Community Information Centres (CICs).
“The Government through its state-owned enterprises together with the private sector has embarked on an aggressive programme to make a robust ICT infrastructure by linking all cities and towns with fibre optic ICT backbone and extending this to the home.
“We have also embarked on a computerisation programme in all our schools, both primary and secondary, with emphasis in remote and rural schools.
“This project, the ICT lab per school is meant to develop ICT skills in both teachers and pupils and promote e-learning in our schools. To date we have covered more than 1 000 schools,” he said.
VP Mnangagwa said complementing the e-learning programme is the Connect-a-School-Connect-a-Community project.
“Under this project, once a school is connected to the internet the surrounding community is privileged to use the facility rather than to leave it to the students alone who at times will be doing other activities and at times being on holidays.”
The Government has also indicated plans to establish an ICT Technology Park that will attract investors into the sector, as well as enhance the operations of local ICT firms.
“It is also our wish as Government to set up an ICT Techno Park. It will be the first and largest technology park in the country.
“The units in the Techno Park will include domestic firms, joint ventures and subsidiaries of foreign companies engaged in a wide variety of ICT activities, which include embedded software development, smart card technology, enterprise resource planning (ERP), process control software design, engineering and computer-aided design software development, IT Enabled Services (ITES), process re-engineering, animation, e-business and manufacturing of ICT gadgets and components, Innovation, Research and Development (R&D) among other activities,” said VP Mnangagwa.
“It is anticipated that the Techno Park will spur the growth of the ICT industry and increase its contribution to Growth Domestic Product.”
The 13th edition of the IAD Summit is being held under the theme: “Affordable Access” and is being attended by more than 500 ICT delegates from across the world.