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Covid-19 exposes Zimbabwe’s Technology Gap

By Shingirai Vambe

IN the 21st century very few people are still buying hard copies of books and the old copies in the libraries are in the process of being converted to electronic copies for online readers. So one can become a moving library by the click of a button on a mobile smart phone.

While time is evidently moving with technology in the first world countries most developing countries, Zimbabwe included are still grappling to fully grasp the internet revolution mostly because of limited investment by Governments in technology infrastructure.

However the global coronavirus pandemic exposed the weakness as people were forced to work from home and rely on internet connectivity and technological gadgets such as smart phones, laptops to connect online.

Chairman of the Econet group, Strive Masiyiwa on his social media platform recently said that Liquid Telecom, one of his subsidiaries, had completed its high-capacity fibre link project which will cover 2600km from the Atlantic Ocean through to Capetown covering West, East and Southern African nations.

Ironically Zimbabwe’s migration from analogue to digital remains a pipe-dream.

The report by POTRAZ however highlights a decline in fixed telephone lines (landlines) by 1.6%, with active internet and data subscriptions growing by 5.6% reaching 8.726.904 from 8.267.268 showing a penetration rate increase by 3.2% to reach 59.9% from 56.7% in the previous quarter in a country with a population of +-16 million people.


The difference is noticed when compared with the mobile statistics which grew by 43% while mobile telephone networks generated a sharp increase of 194.7% having an average of 9 billion from 3 billion recorded during the last quarter. Amongst the three mobile operators in Zimbabwe, Netone is showing a sign growth recording 4.5% against Econet which recorded -1.9 and Telecel -0.1 respectively.

Gaps in the information sector can only be closed as and when people embrace technology, invest in it and use it wisely. The Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa told Post On Sunday that when the digitalisation program was started in 2015 it was expected to be complete by 2016.

Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services: Monica Mutsvangwa

“Completion date has been revised forward to 2023 due to inadequate funding from treasury and late allocation which in most cases will be less the allocation.

The country currently has digital terrestrial television of only 37.5% using 18 transmitters installed against a target of 48 while analogue the stand at 35%.

Radio coverage is at 80% covering every corner of the country with Radio Zimbabwe covering the largest coverage” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

The ministry of information received ZWL $35. 378.000.00 in 2019 form treasury after it was allocated $38.330.000.00 and in the year 2020 ZWL $ was allocated but ZWL $102.700.000.00 was disbursed to the ministry, less than half the allocated amount.

The ministry is yet to provide information to how much was the proposed budget for 2019 and 2020 and in both years the minster highlighted the need to complete the digitalization program which has vast opportunities for the economy and the industry.

Minister of Finance and Economic Development: Mthuli Ncube

Thanks to Zol, each and every town has a free 30min access to internet, high traffic is noticed in these areas and spots, all ages trying to get access to internet for different reason which in many time is used for downloads of games, movies and updates for mobile gadgets and less to do with work and education.

Restricted by earnings, some get free Wi-Fi access to be on social media, updating their status for the world to see what they are doing, marketing products, selling and some for the world to know them.