Business Development Science and Technology

National ICT Device Factory to bridge the digital divide

President Mnangagwa (C) officially opens the National ICT device factory while ministers and other senior government officials look on

The launch of the National ICT Device Factory by President Mnangagwa today is poised to bridge the digital divide, the Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services, Dr. Jenfan Muswere has said.

The Minister said the launch signifies the great strides that the 2nd Republic is making in ensuring that the various policy pronouncements that were made to the people of Zimbabwe are fulfilled.

As mandated by President Mnangagwa; the ICT Ministry has crafted effective policies to develop the ICT Sector to comply with the Modernization Agenda which is being vigorously pursued by Government.

Minister Muswere said the transformative program has motivated the ICT Ministry to be more agile and move at a fast pace in implementing all ICT programmes and projects under the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1): 2021-2025.

He, however, bemoaned the fact that most of the ICT equipment and hardware were in the past imported from outside the country, hence limiting the availability of the ICT gadgets across the public sector and communities in general. This challenge seriously constrained the strategy of modernizing the economy for enhanced productivity and quality service delivery in addition to slowing the pace of bridging the digital divide.

“The launch today of the National ICT Device Factory marks a great step towards ensuring that ICT devices are available across the public sector and the local market in general. In pursuing that goal, ICT manufacturing is therefore being prioritized by our Ministry, working in collaboration with other Government agencies that include institutions of Higher Learning in building local skills and establishing innovation hubs that can be used by industry to develop and manufacture ICT products,” Minister Muswere said.

The strategy outlined, places the Digitally Enabled Economy as one of the key priorities under NDS1.

Under this theme, which anchors the SMART Zimbabwe 2030 Master Plan, our Ministry working in collaboration with other agencies namely: Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development; Women Affairs Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development; Industry and Commerce among others have adopted policies to ensure that the economy is digitalized to improve production and provision of goods and services.

These policies include the following among others:

  1. Improving ICT usage by all citizens and businesses through enhancing the provision of affordable access to ICT;
  2. Advancing an ICT device and equipment Strategy that, among others, emphasises import substitution;
  3. Promoting the provision of Smart Solutions to all areas of the economy through the development of local ICT applications and services;
  4. Increasing Funding for research and development;
  5. Enhancing ICT Capacity Building and Training;
  6. Expanding development of ICT innovation hubs;
  7. Sustaining and promoting environmentally friendly E-waste management policies that include standardization of devices to avoid dumping by other countries.

“Your Excellency, as a Ministry, we have played a major role in the development of the National ICT Device Factory as part of our overall strategic thrust of implementing policies that seek to make ICT infrastructure, systems, and devices highly available and usable by all Zimbabweans. Additionally, the ICT Device Factory will promote the furtherance of the Government’s goals of developing innovation and building the manufacturing skills of the people of Zimbabwe especially the young generation. This will also address the issues of entrepreneurship and employment creation which are also fundamental to the successful implementation of NDS1.

“Without doubt, it aids the creation of an ICT Value Chain that spans from skills development, manufacturing, distribution, retailing, and consumption. Indeed, it will help Zimbabwe acquire additional comparative and competitive advantages to those already existing, hence further promoting economic development and sustainable livelihoods.

“Your Excellency, allow me now to thank you and your esteemed delegation for coming to officially launch this factory, which as highlighted earlier on is a game-changer in the ICTs ecosystem in Zimbabwe,” Minister Muswere added.

 

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende