Chiedza Tembo Post Correspondent —
A LOT of effort is being made by Government to achieve one component of the Millennium Development Goals by bringing access to ICTs for all, as ICT is being used as a vehicle for delivering services, catalyzing economic growth and facilitating the ease of doing business.
ICTS can be used as a tool for promoting business competitiveness as well as a driver of economic growth. ICTs also offer opportunities for increased well being and sustainable socio-economic development in all sectors.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Trends for Youth Unemployment report, the global youth unemployment rate was set to reach 71 million in 2017, with unemployment increases being driven by the slowdown in emerging economies as a result of global recession and stagnant growth in most countries.
High unemployment, especially of youths recently graduated, not only hampers economic growth, but can contribute towards a devastating experience that affects their ability to lead productive and rewarding lives. Zimbabwe has not been spared by the global recession, with most graduates resorting to self employment to fork out a living. Urgent attention is needed to address the plight of youth and provide them better opportunities for employment.
In response to this urgency, recently, the Government, through the Ministry of ICT and Postal courier services has been using mainstream media to highlight the successful projects that have been achieved by young entrepreneurs who have been using ICT to create employment and advance towards their source of living and sustenance. Some of these achievements include Deepleague, SmartGo, where young developers are using ICT for online marketing of different goods and services.
Midlands State University and University of Zimbabwe among other universities are using e-learning services that were developed by students, with MSU pioneering its locally developed electronic learning facility.
The demand for both basic and more advanced ICT skills cuts across all sectors, including agriculture, education, health, tourism and manufacturing, amongst other sectors in the country. Government has been encouraging the uptake of entrepreneurial activities in order to stimulate development of the economy as well as complementing the Zim-Asset initiative which encourages self employment towards economic growth.
ICTs are transforming old market sectors including agriculture, where farmers get updates on climate change, rainfall patterns or anything that might be affecting their crops, and creating new market sectors that were not in existence before, through mobile applications.
Most individuals and companies are using social media for example, Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter to market and sell their locally produced markets and luring consumers to buy their products.
The manufacturing industry has seen an increase in products sales due to online e-marketing, with ICTs availing the platform for producers to display their goods as well as reaching to all people cutting across distance and technological barriers as there is effective communication.
Promoting self-employment and entrepreneurship is an important way of creating new jobs and enhancing the labour market opportunities for the unemployed as well as contributing towards economic growth. Entrepreneurship is a critical factor in promoting innovation, creating employment opportunities and generating social and economic wealth in a country’s economy.
The challenge, however, for most ICTs developer has been in form of financial restrains as most people have little resources to fully implement their projects. It is then up to the government to identify talent across provinces and try avail funds towards these projects so that they become fully viable. It is also up to the private sector to give back to the community by supporting grassroots projects which have the potential to contribute to the economic growth.
Universities also have the potential and capacity to sponsor young entrepreneurs to fully develop projects that they design and implement on as part of their course projects whilst they are still attending college.
This would contribute towards motivating other learners to take up practical subjects and projects that can develop the communities they come from and the nation at large.
The society also has a role to play by learning and understanding what ICT is so that they support entrepreneurs who embark on different projects.
The world is becoming one large global village where information communication is the key driver and eventually everyone is being forced to be a player in the global village so as to keep up with the global trends. It rests upon all individuals to participate by being innovative and implementing developmental projects, by supporting those with IT skills as they do their projects as well as financially supporting these initiatives towards self employment, overall economic growth and development.
Zimbabwe has the potential to have viable ICTs economies like neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and Botswana.