THE need to pursue a digital transformation agenda is more relevant than ever before and for Zimbabwe this must be the cornerstone for the success of the National Development Strategy (NDS1), a Cabinet Minister has said.
The NDS1 is a Government five-year policy blueprint that builds the momentum towards an upper middle-income economy vision by 2030, riding on the successes achieved under the Transitional Stabilisation programme (TSP), which expired last December.
Under this strategy the digital economy is one of the 14 underpinning national priorities for the period 2021-2025.
In remarks to mark this year’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) yesterday, ICT, Postal and Courier Services Minister, Dr Jenfan Muswere, said the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the importance of ICTs in all aspects of life as they have kept societies and economies functional and to some extent sustainable.
He said the lockdown period has resulted in an unparalleled surge in the use of the Internet in providing e-services that include e-learning, e-shopping, e-worshiping and e-health, among other innovations.
This has shined a light on the urgent need for accelerating digital transformation and expeditious progress towards goals and targets set out in the ITU “Connect 2030”
Agenda, said Minister Muswere.
In so doing, he said the Government was determined to ensure every citizen was involved, which emphasises the need to invest more in ICT infrastructure that widens access.
“The necessity for greater investment in digital technologies, skills, resilience and innovation can never be overemphasised. We need to enrich our digital space by retooling major facets of our economy in order to bring about requisite agility and resilience, and to deliver greater efficiencies across entire value chains throughout the economy and across the entire nation,”
said Dr Muswere.
“Our strongest desire is for digital transformation to be the cornerstone of the National Development Strategy (NDS1), which was launched by His Excellency, the President, Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, in November last year.”
In that regard Dr Muswere called for concerted efforts in the consolidation of strategies that deliberately focus on ICT development, executing smart policies and effective processes that embolden investments in ICTs and digital skills as well as embracing emerging technologies.
Already the Government has made considerable strides in creating a conducive environment for digital innovation with local universities spearheading the establishment of innovation hubs throughout the country.
There is also progress in the funding of innovation by the ICT regulator, Potraz. Recently, the Government commissioned the first ever ICT assembly plant for the local assembly of desktop computers, laptops, tablets, prepaid electricity meters, smart water meters and other ICT-orientated equipment.
With the National Data Centre and High-Performance Computer Centre already in place, Dr Muswere said Zimbabwe was on track to becoming an ICT innovation and manufacturing hub for the region.
He commended Potraz and network service providers’ efforts in extending network coverage but stated that a significant number of areas and communities remain outside the network.
“I, therefore, urge all players to double their efforts in extending network coverage to all geographical areas of our country and to ensure the affordability of services for all,”
said Minister Muswere.
He said wider network coverage was critical at a time the country is forging ahead with National e-Learning Strategy for schools to complement traditional forms of learning and mitigating disruptions to the education sector.
The 2021 WTISD was commemorated under the theme:
“Accelerating digital transformation in challenging times”.