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Zimbabwe Slacking On Embracing Technology-Nkala

By Shingirai Vambe

The first day of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo, marks challenges and gaps that show lack of political will for the Southern African country to fully embrace the digital technologies and match with other regional countries in Africa, the Post can report.

The Chief Executive Officer of the leading telecommunications company in Zimbabwe, Telone, Lawrence Nkala told delegates in Bulawayo that Zimbabwe was slacking in its move to embrace technology and move with speed like what other countries in the region are doing as well as technology which is moving at a terrific speed which is not in line with the country’s strategic plan.

The Ministry of Information, Communication and technology, (ICT) together with the regulator, Postal and Telecommunication regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) hosted a first day conference with key stakeholders and telecoms players at the ZITF, appreciating the role the digital world has brought about and opportunities lying ahead when Zimbabwe fully embrace it.

The conference ran under the theme: “embracing digital economy”.

POTRAZ Director General, Gift Machengete. pic by Shingirai Vambe

Zimbabweans have on various platforms raised the issue of the cost of data and airtime, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ), confirmed that players have to submit their charges before effecting them on consumers, thus, giving a nod to the current cost structure.

Econet deputy Chief Executive Officer, Ray Chimanikire clarified and and gave a different view point. during his presentation, Chimanikire said Zimbabwe was lagging behind and the current cost structure was as a result of using 2G and 3G network legacy equipment which is very expensive to run with as compared to 4G and G5 equipment which is now being used by neighbouring countries like South Africa and Zambia, among others.

POTRAZ Director General, Gift Machengete said there where gaps in policies and regulatory frameworks, impeding the country Zimbabwe to fully digitise and develop. on the first day of the trade fair, policy makers and accounting officers where all absent.

“When you visit Uganda on the up coming summit of Regulators, what would be your response if other regulators say, Zimbabwe is not yet ready to embrace technology”?

Machengete said Zimbabwe’s problems aren’t far different from those of other countries.

He however said POTRAZ or the Government of Zimbabwe has not blocked Starlink, a satellite internet constellation operated by Starlink Services, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of American aerospace company SpaceX, but following the existing laws of the country.

“The network provider has recently applied for a licence and we are looking at their application. he said there a lot of things to look at, which include data protection, cyber crime to mention just a few,” said Machengete.

“We asked Starlink to switch off those who were already using this network because we don’t allow illegality,” added Machengete.

Zimbabwe recently launched the National Information Communication Technology Policy which is likely able to change the face of the sector and leapfrog to match with other regional countries and international standards.

According to reports, corruption and delays are caused by officers for personal gains and plans are to digitalise the whole government system, reduce interfacing, paper trails and promote the ease of doing business across the divide.