THE Government is crafting a new Information Communication Technology (ICT) policy to drive growth of this strategically key economic sector over the next 10 years.
ICT, Postal and Courier Services Minister Jenfan Muswere said the ICT master plan will guide the sector’s contribution to economic growth in line with Government’s Vision 2030.
“My ministry is working on the SMART Zimbabwe 2030 Master Plan, which seeks to exploit the potential of ICTs so that Zimbabwe attains its vision of becoming an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
“This vision is predicated on, among others, building on the achievements of the Zimbabwe National Policy on ICTs of 2016 to 2020 which further strengthens Zimbabwe’s economic base and improves its economic environment for accelerated growth towards achieving a Digital Government, a Digital Economy and a Digital Society, by 2030,” he said.
“The master plan, once fully rolled out, will completely transform Government processes, services and management, and make information access and service delivery more efficient.
“Again, the master plan, with the flagship projects to pilot its implementation, will steer the march towards the digital future that will transform the country to a regional technical hub, raise the country’s competitiveness and align the country in line with vision 2030’s ICT goals.”
Minister Muswere said this while launching a Community Information Centre (CIC) at Bulu High School in Matabeleland South.
The Bulu CIC is unique in that unlike most which have been launched across the country, it is located at a school, a CIC that is modelled along the Connect-a-School-Connect-a-Community model.
Speaking at the same event, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) director general Dr Gift Machengete said Covid-19 had highlighted the need for an effective national ICT system.
“The pandemic, has however, validated the significant role that ICTs play in ensuring that businesses, governments, and societies remain connected and functional.
“The social distancing restrictions imposed due to Covid-19 led to an exponential rise in the use of digital platforms and applications.
“The private and public sectors alike are now conducting business and offering services online, while students and pupils are using the internet more than ever before as they partake in e-learning,” said Dr Machengete.
The increased demand in internet usage due to the pandemic is borne out in latest telecommunications numbers provided by the regulator.
According to the sector’s performance report released by regulator the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), there was a 56,2 percent growth in mobile internet and data traffic for the second quarter of 2020.
Used International Internet Bandwidth Capacity also increased by 2,8 percent from the previous quarter.
Potraz said it expects internet and data traffic to “continue to grow due to the increased adoption of e-learning, telecommuting, and e-conferencing”.
Consumers have also been inevitably substituting voice service with cheaper Over-the-Top services such as WhatsApp.
The regulator said the pandemic has demonstrated the critical importance that telecommunications infrastructure plays in keeping businesses, governments, and societies connected and running.
“The sector has been critical in keeping the economy running under the lockdown by providing business-critical connectivity and resilience, facilitating work-from-home arrangements, e-banking, e-commerce and keeping individuals and societies connected and informed, with access to essential services during mandated social isolation.
“As a result, many telecom players providing broadband have benefited from a surge in the traffic of data,” said Potraz.