‘Zim has world class in­no­va­tors’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Busi­ness Re­porter

ZIM­BABWE has bril­liant young in­for­ma­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy (ICT) in­no­va­tors with po­ten­tial to be­come among the world’s great­est in­no­va­tors, a Cab­i­net Min­is­ter has said.

Of­fi­cially open­ing the ICT In­no­va­tions show­case in Bulawayo on Wed­nes­day evening, ICT, Postal and Courier Ser­vices Min­is­ter Supa Mandi­wanzira said he was im­pressed by the in­no­va­tions that were be­ing show­cased to ad­dress the needs of mod­ern day so­ci­ety.

He said ex­po­sure and lack of mar­ket­ing were the set­backs af­fect­ing the in­no­va­tions by the lo­cal in­no­va­tors.

“Early this year, I was in Barcelona where ev­ery year they have what they call the ‘ Mo­bile World Congress’ where peo­ple gather to talk about tech­nol­ogy, ICTs and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions. . .

“I must tell you that the in­no­va­tions that we saw to­day (Wed­nes­day) are much bet­ter than what was show­cased at that congress,” said Min­is­ter Mandi­wanzira.

“What that means is that what we saw out­side this evening has the ca­pac­ity and po­ten­tial to be big­ger than what [Face­book founder, Mark El­liot] Zucker­berg built.”

The in­no­va­tions that the young in­no­va­tors show­cased in­cluded an on­line plat­form where par­ents are able to check whether their chil­dren have been given home­work.

An­other plat­form that charmed Min­is­ter Mandi­wanzira was an in­no­va­tion where peo­ple can or­der food from food out­lets such as ho­tels and restau­rants in the com­fort of their homes or of­fices.

He said the in­no­va­tions by lo­cal in­no­va­tors re­sem­bled cre­ativ­ity and re­spon­sive­ness to the needs of mod­ern day so­ci­ety.

Against this back­ground, he said such in­no­va­tions re­quire sup­port from the Gov­ern­ment and in­dus­try play­ers.

The Gov­ern­ment has since set aside a $25 mil­lion ICT in­no­va­tion fund, which is ex­pected to be launched soon.

The fund aims to avail fi­nan­cial re­sources to sup­port start-up of tech­no­log­i­cal projects.

“There’s a rea­son why Zim­babwe is the most lit­er­ate so­ci­ety on the African con­ti­nent; and there’s a rea­son why our mo­bile phone pen­e­tra­tion is more than 105 per­cent, be­cause we’re smart.

“We can take up tech­nolo­gies quicker than any other so­ci­ety on the African con­ti­nent. We are a big mar­ket for in­no­va­tions, so, we need to take ad­van­tage of th­ese op­por­tu­ni­ties and cre­ate em­ploy­ment for our young peo­ple, and cre­ate mil­lion­aires for our own peo­ple,” he said.

Min­is­ter Mandi­wanzira re­it­er­ated that the Gov­ern­ment was ICT-ready and has part­nered with ICT in­dus­try play­ers in pro­mot­ing in­no­va­tions in the coun­try to boost eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

“The Gov­ern­ment is in­vest­ing in in­fra­struc­ture, it is build­ing fi­bre net­works ... and what that means is we’re bring­ing more peo­ple into the in­for­ma­tion su­per high­way and that they can be­gin ac­cess­ing in­ter­net,” he said.

For ex­am­ple, through the State-owned mo­bile telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work, NetOne the Gov­ern­ment has in­vested in the na­tional net­work broad­band project where the op­er­a­tor has in­vested $218 mil­lion un­der phase II of the project.

NetOne has also a $485 mil­lion loan fa­cil­ity with China Exim Bank un­der the Phase III of the firm’s na­tional net­work broad­band project ex­pected to be­gin next year.

The Min­is­ter of ICT, Postal and Courier Ser­vices, Supa Mandi­wanzira, dis­cusses a point with one of the in­no­va­tors, Ms Andile Ncube, at a Bulawayo ho­tel on Wed­nes­day

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