World Bank tips Zim for sound digital economy World Bank country manager for Zimbabwe, Mrs Mukami Kariuki

Business Reporter
THE World Bank says Zimbabwe’s digital financial services are the strongest foundation for further development of the digital economy in the country.

The World Bank in partnership with the Office of the President and Cabinet launched the new Zimbabwe Digital Economy Diagnostic report last week showcasing how digital transformation is a key enabler of long-term resilient growth in Zimbabwe.

The latest digital diagnostic report says Zimbabwe has made digital advancements including a revolution in mobile money resulting in about 7,1 million mobile wallet holders in a country of about 15 million people.

The country has a relatively well-developed digital payment system, where 96 percent of all transactions in the country’s formal sector are conducted through digital means and only four are cash-based, and the Government uses digital money almost exclusively.

Despite these advances, Zimbabwe is capturing only a fraction of its digital transformation growth potential and the report recommends strategic investments in digital skills and infrastructure as well as accelerated creation of digital platforms and digital entrepreneurship to create the foundations for the digital economy.

“The Zimbabwe Digital Economy Diagnostic, a new report produced by the World Bank, has found out that the country’s digital financial services are the strongest foundation for the further development of the digital economy,” said the World Bank (WB) in a post-launch statement.

The report maps out strengths and limitations that characterise the national digital economy ecosystem. It identifies the challenges and opportunities for future growth in Zimbabwe with respect to five pillars that together form the foundation for digital transformation.

In addition to digital financial services, these include digital infrastructure, digital Government platforms, digital entrepreneurship and digital skills.

Zimbabwe has already mainstreamed the digital economic revolution among the 14 key thematic areas under the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1-2021-2025) blueprint.

During the launch, World Bank country manager for Zimbabwe, Mrs Mukami Kariuki, was quoted as saying: “As noted by the report, Zimbabwe is well-positioned to reap significant dividends from a digital transformation.

“However, to achieve the desired results, strategic action is required to strengthen the policy and regulatory framework, resource management and coordination, governance and transparency and capacity building.

“A strong digital foundation is key to the realisation of Government’s vision for smart agriculture, health, trade, commerce, education, transport and cities.”

As the digital agenda cuts across various sectors, the report’s key recommendations underscore the need for collaboration and coordination across Government ministries, departments and agencies.

Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda, was quoted as saying:

“We recognise the potential for digital technologies to help pave the way forward and are therefore focusing on development of the key digital pillars that will underpin the growth of our economy.”

The World Bank has said while implementing the recommendations requires capital investment to expand and improve infrastructure and services, it also requires attention to binding policy, legislative or regulatory constraints.

The report further notes that despite challenges arising from the ongoing pandemic and economic recession, Zimbabwe can forge a path toward digital transformation through careful sequencing and prioritisation of essential reforms.

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