Prosper Ndlovu in Binga
GOVERNMENT expects the ongoing establishment of Community Information Centres (CICs) across the country to be used as a launchpad for driving increased innovation, research and development, which are critical pillars in building a sound modern economy.
In line with Vision 2030, the National Development Strategy (NDS1:2021-2025) blueprint recognises information communication technology (ICT), as the key drive for attainment of a digital economy, leading to both economic and social transformation in Zimbabwe.
This makes empowerment of all Zimbabweans with digital skills, enabling digitally empowered businesses and driving digital investments, especially in remote regions of the country, more paramount.
The Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services, Dr Jenfan Muswere, said this in Binga on Friday in remarks to mark the official commissioning of the Binga Village Information Centre.
“Governemnt has taken necessary steps to facilitate research and development, through establishment of CICs as a way of motivating the develolment of home grown solutions to the socio-economic challenges that we are facing as a country,” said Dr Muswere in a speech read on his behalf by his deputy, Cde Dingumuzi Phuthi.
As Zimbabwe thrives to transform its economy to an upper middle-income status by 2030, the minister said ICTs must take centre stage.
Already, the World Bank has commended the Zimbabwe for making strides in embracing ICTs and creating a favourable climate for a thriving digital economy, especially in the financial services sector.
This buttresses fulfilment of global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are anchored on fostering inclusive economic participation and ensuring reduction in poverty.
“Advanced technological and digital skills are, thus, essential to the development of an innovation culture, which is a prerequisite for success in the digital economy.
“It is, therefore, incumbent to foster innovation hubs, bringing together universities, laboratories, start-ups and large businesses.”
A robust research and develolment thrust is critical in transforming the country’s productive sector as espoused in the Education 5.0, which has mainstreamed development of innovation hubs at major state universities.
The innovation drive is also nurturing young innovators, including those outside the education ecosystem, by providing seed capital for projects that are still at ideation stage, in the form of grants.
“I also call upon the young innovators from the Binga community to participate in programmes of the innovation drive and make use of facilities offered to further develop their ideas into bankable projects,” said Dr Muswere.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Richard Moyo, who also attended the event applauded Potraz for expanding ICT network connectivity to unserviced areas in his province.
He urged local enterprises including players in the tourism sector, which is a key economic activity, to embrace ICTs in marketing their products and accessing various Governemnt online services.
Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) director general, Dr Gift Machegete, said CICs were critical in transforming people’s lives through e-learning, e-commerce, e-medicine and various other internet of things benefits.
The event ended with a handover of 55 laptops to be to local schools in Mat’North province.
ICT permanent secretary, Dr Sam Kundishora, senior civil servants and traditional leaders attended the launch event.